09.03.2009 01:18 PM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Fisher Communications rolls out 43 hyperlocal Web sites serving Seattle neighborhoods

Fisher Communications has gone hyperlocal in the Seattle market with the launch of a network of 43 neighborhood Web sites in mid-August aimed at boosting local content and giving local businesses more advertising opportunities.

With URLs like www.BallardKOMO.com and www.BellevueKOMO.com, the sites combine content from Fisher-owned KOMO-TV, user-generated content and content reported by agents working for an area real estate company with a strong neighborhood presence.

The sites “further integrate” the station’s news operation into neighborhoods throughout Seattle, said Fisher Seattle VP and general manager Jim Clayton. They also will give KOMO News the chance “to build relationships with small local businesses” and enhance “the timeliness and breadth of our newsgathering operations,” he said.

To support the initiative, KOMO is restructuring its Seattle newsroom to capture and post community news. It also is working with Bellevue, WA-based DataSphere Technologies, which is providing its LocalNet ad sales force and technology engine to make the hyperlocal Web network a reality.

DataSphere, which began working with KOMO about three months ago to revamp the station’s Web site search feature, built on the foundation of that project to make it easy for the broadcaster to populate individual hyperlocal Web sites with relevant news and information, said Gary Cowan, DataSphere VP of products. LocalNet combines neighborhood-relevant KOMO stories with AP stories pertinent to covered neighborhoods and funnels them to the appropriate hyperlocal site. DataSphere also provides a telemarketing sales force as part of the LocalNet package to sell Web ads not sold as premium spots by the station’s sales force, he added.

"We believe we have differentiated our hyperlocal program from others by developing an innovative content development strategy and an ability to rapidly monetize our program," said Troy McGuire, VP of news and general manager of Fisher Interactive Network.

Fisher Communications has plans to launch similar hyperlocal Web sites in its other markets. First on the list is Portland, OR, which the company anticipates will go live in the fall.

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