Information is becoming a ubiquitous commodity; news from anywhere is now available everywhere.
For many consumers it’s all too much - how can they sift through it and find the information they really want? The answer may be to create and sort information by location on a really local scale.
Very specific local content is also known as hyperlocal content. People are blogging about the street they live in, and media companies such as AOL are investing in user-generated local news networks such as Patch.com.
In Germany, newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt recently launched a series of blogs focusing on city districts. In the UK, the Guardian has launched Guardian Local, with sites focusing on Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds.
But hyperlocality is not just about content. Newspaper classifieds - already struggling with the threat from services such as Craigslist - will face even more competition in the future.
Tools like Trulia, which enables users to research US real estate online in a hyperlocal way, and websites such as Indeed.com, which makes job search more hyperlocal in more than 50 countries, will all potentially take a further slice of the local newspaper ad market.
Hyperlocality is also developing in the couponing arena. For example, US service Dealmap enables users to see hyperlocal heatmaps of hot deals in the area they live in.
The next step will naturally be in social networking. Facebook Places provides location-based content, but start-ups such as streetadvisor.com in the US take the idea one step further, creating social networks by street.
However, the trend will really take off via mobile. Handsets will provide ubiquitous access to information based on a consumer’s location.
Hyperlocal information, brand messages, coupons, deals and communication will explode through location-based services.
Consumers are already starting to plug into services such as Facebook Deals or German start-up MyMobai. This is a soon-to-be-billion dollar market.
The appeal of hyperlocality is based on the need to find a new way to structure all forms of information.
The ability to access content and services from around the world will continue to overwhelm consumers as the volume of content and number of services increase.
Hyperlocality delivers relevance - consumers know the information that matters is usually directly related to their lives and thus to their location or peer group.
One interesting side effect is that it reduces the importance of global hot spots.
Hyperlocality means every street, every neighbourhood becomes equally important - whether it is located in London or a small village in rural China.
The good news for brands is that they can leverage the consumer need for hyperlocality.
When it comes to digital media, location information can be used to ensure the creative varies by postcode on a more precise level than has been common until now.
For branch or outlet-based brands, communications can be modified according to the characteristics of specific communities and neighbourhoods, thereby making the offer more relevant to the people who live and work nearby.
In order to take advantage, however, advertisers will need to change their creative process.
Many brands have struggled to deliver multiple executions down to the level of targeting made possible by the behavioural and demographic profile information now available.
Adding hyperlocality into the mix creates a need for even more executions.
The brands that will benefit will be those that can tap into the desire for information and services to be more firmly rooted in the consumer’s own geographic locations at work and play.
Daniel Bischoff, research director, MediaCom Germany