It's time for some tough love for the advertising wing of Patch. Love, because I am a huge fan of the hyper local news service that Patch provides which has helped me to find community and grow my business. Tough, because by all accounts Patch is hemorrhaging money at such an alarming rate that the bosses over at adotive parent company AOL can't be willing to put up with it much longer.
I recently received a call from a gentleman selling advertising on Patch. I am a perfect candidate for this sort of marketing because I have a local business that provides Autism services and I spend money on Google's adwords and Facebook's sponsored stories. However, after talking to the salesperson for only a few minutes it became apparent that there is no way I can justify spending money on the substandard advertising platform that Patch offers.
While Patch has been a disruptive innovator in the news field, it is still using an advertising model more appropriate for old media. The current offering will allow me to purchase an ad to be displayed on a story for somewhere between 100-200 per week. But here's the catch... per town. While the local media model is appropriate along municipal lines because people share a school system and government, I know of no business that operates long town lines. That means that for my business, which covers a 25 mile radius would have to pay for at least five towns separately.
Another major flaw that would keep me from using this is a lack of keyword and content targeting. In other words, my ad could appear on any page regardless of relevance. I am truly grateful for the opportunity that Patch provides for me to hear the voices of my neighbors, but those voices can at times be insensitive and intolerant. Much of the user generated content Patch hosts would be an innapropriate platform to advertise my business.
Mercifully, the advertising and content wings of Patch are kept seperate, so your local editor will never try to upsell you. The consequence of this however is that I can post content and events about my business for free which provides much better engagement than an advertisement, leaving me no incentive to spend money. I only bring this up because I love Patch, and wish to see it succeed.
I am aware that Patch will soon be rolling out an entirely new user interface and hope this is an opportunity to improve on the monetization model as well. Here is my wishlist for an advertising platform I can use:
1. The ability to purchase ad space by region, not by town.
2. Keyword targeted advertising so that my ads appear on content relevant to my target audience.
3. Performance based metrics such as the pay per click, or pay by impression options offered by Google and Facebook.
I hope to be able to give you my money soon!