I’m going to be posting weekly questions here on Idea Lab to spark discussion by the various authors, as well as our community of readers. This week I’d like to follow up on the recent theme of new business models for local news sites. Many small hyper-local community sites start up with Google AdSense ads and other automated, quick ways of bringing in a small revenue stream. Eventually, though, they need to make more money than that, and must turn to local businesses to advertise. But it’s difficult to entice small businesses online, as they are more likely to employ Google AdWords if they do anything at all. So how can community news sites get local businesses to advertise, and is there something they can offer the businesses beyond just a display ad or a place in an online directory? Is there a more creative partnership they might have, where reader/contributors could give the business honest feedback on the site — positive and negative?
Share your thoughts on this in the comments below, or if you’re an Idea Lab blogger, write up a whole post on the subject. If you run a community site, tell us what’s worked and what hasn’t.