Innovating the business model of hyperlocal news: Nub News in focus
There’s an acute challenge for hyperlocal news. Local businesses are perfectly adept at connecting with their own audiences on major platforms. They rely on Facebook, Instagram and Google for their distribution, making the local rag redundant. There’s also the issue of scale. How do you make a scalable model that can stay lean but offer rich and relevant insights for communities to emerge a viable business model.
Nub News is attempting to carve out a model that sits between the major national publishing houses in the UK, such as Reach’s answer to hyperlocal In Your Area, and the independents — many of which are part of the Independent Community News Network: one man or small team operations operating unique business models to their niche.
Nub News is different because it employs journalists to cover a patch, and wants demonstrable local knowledge. They then add layers of aggregated content from Zoopla, Reed, eBay and others to bring relevant content to the village or town. Add to that trusted contributors — members of the local council, legal teams, police and sports clubs who can submit content for the site. It’s lean. And possibly scalable: there are currently 54 sites from a start of three 18 months ago.
The revenues come in four main forms:
- sponsorship of the news site which offers brand opportunities for local companies such as solicitors
- sponsored sections or content editorials (advertorials)
- partnerships with national deals such as the Co-op
- classified ads or directory listings
What works best is local original content that can’t be found anywhere else. When the journalists produce good stories the traffic works well, including features such as Up Close features with local people and businesses. In business terms, the site becomes viable when there is 30% of the population on the site. When there’s 50% then the rates that can be charged increases. Karl Hancock, CEO, who has come into the news sector from city banking, said: “The journalist has to be right and the town has to be right. Is it neglected by other publications, and does the journalist see and understand the area well enough to fill that gap. It is trust that works, and understand what can differentiate the offer of Nub News with what is out there already.”