"Both the reach and the consumption of hyperlocal content has been accelerated by smartphones," Jon Kingsbury, Nesta's programme director for creative economy. "And of course smart phones know where you are, so we think that offers a huge potential to hyperlocal publishers to make opportunities out of the fact that GPS-enabled devices might be a way of helping people find their content."The study is part of an effort to support the growth of hyperlocal content and media, particularly in the areas of news and public information.
Hyperlocal Media are Used. The survey found that two-thirds of adults in the UK expressed an interest in news and information about "the immediate area in which they currently live." More than half (53%) of Internet users report having accessed hyperlocal media at some point. Among those who indicated that they had used some or all of the hyperlocal media sites listed, roughly one-third indicated daily use, and another third reported weekly use. Interestingly, 8% reported using hyperlocal media to get information about areas where they used to live.
Mobile Devices and Hyperlocal Interest. Interest in, and use of, hyperlocal media was highest among owners of connected mobile devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets). People who own smartphones and tablets are the most likely to indicate using hyperlocal on a daily basis. More than half (55%) of those reporting using hyperlocal media more often now than they did two years ago indicate that their increased use was driven by getting a smartphone and/or tablet. More than a quarter (28%) of hyperlocal media users reported that they have used apps to access hyperlocal content.
Sources for Hyperlocal Content. More than half of hyperlocal media users report using search engines to find and access hyperlocal content. About a quarter cite using websites or apps of local media (in the UK that means newspapers and magazines), and 30% go to websites created by local governments and agencies. The study found that, at least for now, there was little use of specialized stand-alone providers. Only 17% report using social media for hyperlocal content, and they use it primarily for timely information - weather, sports scores, etc..
Hyperlocal Content Drivers. Hyperlocal media use seems to be predominantly driven by functional needs for localized information. Half of users report getting local weather information, 41% are seeking local breaking news, almost a third (32%) are seeking local entertainment information or info on local bars, restaurants, and clubs (29%), and more than a quarter (27%) use it for information on community events. Convenience (59%) and free cost (45%) are also important factors - and a third indicate that they think hyperlocal media are more up-to-date, accurate, reliable, and comprehensive than other media outlets. Respondents also indicated that while hyperlocal media kept them informed about their neighborhood, it was much less likely to motivate involvement (doesn't increase their influence or help develop new friendships).
Demographics. There are age and income differences in hyperlocal media users. Those in the 35-54 age group are the most likely to be hyperlocal users. There are also significant differences among age groups, and between rural and urban residents, in terms of the types of hyperlocal information sought.
"The other thing that really came out in the research is that people expect traditional media brands to provide very very local content. When we asked them where they would look for very very local content they were much more likely to look to existing or traditional brands, like broadcasters and traditional local newspapers, than they were to hyperlocal blogs."
Sources - Study: Hyperlocal demand driven by mobile devices, Journalism.co.uk
UK Demand for Hyperlocal Media Research Report, Nesta research report
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