AOL said today that it will acquire two companies that focus on local: Patch Media Corp. and Going Inc. Patch is a news and information platform that's targets individual towns and communities. Going is also a platform that offers people a place to share and find new information about a town.
AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong said that the local continues to be one of "the most disaggregated experiences on the Web" with a lot of information available but no easy or fast way for people to find it. It's an area that's prime for innovation, he said.
Going forward, local will be a core area of focus and investment for AOL. The acquisitions of Patch and Going will help us build out our local network further with excellent local services that enable people to stay better informed about what’s going on in their neighborhood.”
Back in my early days of newspapers, I worked with an old-timer Metro editor who believed that "local" was the gold mine of the news media, No one covers the community the way we do, he would say. The people in their community can always find another way to read about what's happening in Washington or overseas. We can tell the folks right here in our neighborhoods that the city council voted to increase their water rates. There will always be a demand for that.
Consider the stats from the AOL news release:
- More people are getting their news from online sources (40%) than traditional newspapers (35%), according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
- In 2008, local searches grew 58% in 2008 over 2007, while overall searches were up 21%, according to the Yellow Pages Association.
- Borrell Associates puts local advertising - both online and offline - as a $103 billion market, or 39 percent of the total U.S. ad spending.
Financial details of the AOL acquisitions were not released.