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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: Have Local Web Portals Lost Their Way?

Re: Have Local Web Portals Lost Their Way?
Posted by: ECT News 2001-07-23 17:19:00
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When online portal CitySearch.com announced layoffs of 90 employees this month, it was
billed as a cost-cutting measure designed to help the company reach its profitability
goals. It was only the latest and most public announcement of the underlying struggles
local portals face.

Across the nation, expensive office space leased a year or two ago now houses skeleton
crews. Local portals are fading into ghost towns. Which leads many to
ponder the question: Is there a place for local portals on a worldwide medium?

Re: Have Local Web Portals Lost Their Way?
Posted by: Benson 2001-08-07 08:36:47 In reply to: ECT News
Local web portals are simply a reflection that some of the 'big boys' have realized that trapping web visitors, instead of helping them, has not worked in the past. Now the 'local' web portals are trying to bring a more local flavor to their offering. But ultimately, if they continue to try to be the 'theatre' instead of the 'usher' then they will ultimately fail, no matter how tied in they might be to local media for promotion.

Niche portals are strong in the current economy because they attract and maintain a highly focused target audience. Many have succeeded to attract significant advertising dollars, my own sites included. But this is because they remained true to the purpose of being a 'portal' - that being to help people find the gems and jewels that exist on the Internet. Visitors will give their loyalty to the web sites that prove useful to them in their ongoing search for knowledge or information. Visitors will shun those portals that are brazen enough to think that they alone have all the content that visitors are seeking. Ultimately the visitors will shun those cocky sites once they stumble on a 'true' portal.

Re: Have Local Web Portals Lost Their Way?
Posted by: Chris 2001-07-24 11:19:52 In reply to: ECT News
I think the key to any of the portals surviving is going to be reducing the emphasis on in-house and purchased content. For a portal to be truly sustainable through tough advertising periods, the majority of the content is going to have to be user-generated (and free). Forums are one example of this, but it needs to reach well beyond this.

I'm surprised that you didn't mention The Daily Jolt (www.dailyjolt.com). It's another example of a portal network going local that is working. They run a network of student-run college websites and apparently draw much of their revenue from local businesses. It's a very similar model to CitySearch except on the college level. Similar to CitySearch, colleges are very clearly linked together in the network.

Re: Have Local Web Portals Lost Their Way?
Posted by: Mike Valentine 2001-07-24 20:23:40 In reply to: Chris
I have tried repeatedly to become a "community correspondent" for local portal sites. They *always* want volunteers for these positions and that is fine if you are gathering dilettantes with short attention spans or retired spinsters looking for something to do. It doesn't make for solid content or access to serious reporting outside of limited interest areas.

Pay for those local portal community correspondents and you will boost interest from both the community and the correspondents themselves. Now they have reason to expand coverage to the full community and beyond narrow emphasis on a church or school group or generic paid content.

Mike Banks Valentine

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