MORE RESIDENTS FOR NEWCITY.com

By: Karim Mostafa

Newspapers Get Services, Traffic



What began as an alternative newspaper in Chicago 14 years ago has
quickly evolved into a portal for alternative content from across the
country. ‘Newcity is now an Internet-centered company with publishing
interests on the side,’ says Brian Hieggelke, president and CEO of
Newcity Communications. ‘We had to strip a newspaper apart into a
bundle of things – news, entertainment, listings, and classifieds – and
reconstruct it on the Internet.’



Since its launch last spring, Newcity.com has attracted more than 60
content partners and newspaper affiliates by promising to channel
traffic to their sites and to give a cut of the revenues gained from
national advertising on the network.


The latest newspapers to join the network include the Casco Bay
(Maine) Weekly , Missoula (Mont.) Independent , Colorado Springs
Independent , and New Mass Media’s Advocate weeklies in Fairfield
County, New Haven, Hartford, Westchester County, and Hatfield, Mass.


Matt Gibson, publisher of the Missoula Independent , says he joined
Newcity.com because it is ‘well-positioned to deliver to their target
demographic on the Web.’ He found Newcity.com to really be the only
partnership option targeting 18- to 34-year-olds online.



Gibson, whose paper’s free circulation is currently at 16,952
(according to the E&P 1999 Community Publications Year Book ), hopes
the partnership will enable his site to have a wider audience, offer
more than just updated movie listings, and create demographic profiles.


Hieggelke is looking to do just that. He sees Newcity.com as the
backbone builder to these newspapers’ sites to complement what they do
well already – produce content.


Newcity.com is also looking to create more of its own content. Next
month, five writers will provide the site with original coverage of the
music extravaganza South by Southwest, being held in Austin this year.


For a while, the Web was driven by capital markets, Hieggelke says. Now
‘there is more value to content because it has more transactional
friction.’



Hieggelke defines ‘transactional friction’ as the use of content in
various ways to generate revenue. Like newspapers, sites can generate
revenue by combining advertising with content and syndicating content.
But online there are more possible equations, particularly contextual
e-commerce.


Since alternative newspapers often run heavy on listings and
entertainment, ticketing services online was a logical contextual e-

commerce application for Newcity.com. The site recently partnered with
Acteva.com and is in the midst of rolling out those services on the
Newcity.com Chicago site and later to affiliate newspapers.


E-commerce has also appeared on the site as Newcityshop.com with 50
retailers including stores such as fogdog.com, ahah-pashmina.com, and
moma.org.


But ad sales are still the largest source of revenue for the portal.
Hieggelke says there are few Web sites targeting the 18- to 34-year-old
market very well, which has allowed his portal to attract lots of
advertisers.



For Gibson, the partnership resulted in an immediate jump in traffic.
With average monthly hits at 8,000, several hundred more users coming
through Newcity.com was significant.



As an affiliate member, Gibson wouldn’t object to Newcity forming
partnerships with other Web networks.



Hieggelke says, ‘We probably will partner at some later time.’ But for
now he’s concentrating on financing rounds and preparing for an initial
public offering. Heck, even acquisitions for the ambitious Web site
might be in the foreseeable future.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Karim Mostafa (karimm@mediainfo.com ) is assistant
editor for Editor & Publisher Online.








(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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