Associated focuses on southwest for hyperlocal launch

LONDON - Associated Northcliffe Digital is rolling out a hyperlocal pilot project in the southwest, with plans to launch 50 local news sites for communities where people can write and upload their own content and discuss local issues.

This week the first phase has gone live with the launch of 23 community websites across the southwest, aimed at towns with less than 50,000 residents who feel they don't have a dedicated online news site.

Initial websites include towns such as Bideford, Falmouth and Clifton. The remainder of the websites will be launched throughout the summer.

Dubbed 'Local People', each website will be managed by a community publisher, whose role is to oversee and contribute content.

As well as allowing local people to write and publish news and comment on local issues, the hyperlocal initiative also offers businesses the opportunity to market themselves to their local customer base.

Businesses will be able to use targeted online display and business directory services, which offer users the chance to rate and review and owners have the ability to claim and enhance their listings.

Roland Bryan, strategy director at Associated Northcliffe Digital, said: "This strategy gives us the opportunity to build relationships and targeted advertising products for the local SME market that is often poorly served by online media today."

Associated Northcliffe Digital, Associated Newspaper's online division, will promote the Local People websites with a raft of digital marketing tactics to drive traffic, including targeted SEM and online display ads.

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