Why local media means more than just radio and newspapers

The days when local media used to refer solely to your local paper or radio station are gone, as social networks roll out new products and new startups emerge.

We are more mobile, better connected, and creating more data about ourselves than ever before.

Local communities have been evolving as a result; these days, when we interact on a local level, our experiences are increasingly becoming more specific, tailored and based around shared passions or contexts.

This is opening up the field of local media to a host of new services, and there is a significant growth in hyper-local media opportunities, which are customised to reflect these emerging needs. Harnessing community knowledge and data in a highly effective way, they are more defined, relevant and shareable than anything that has gone before.

Whilst hyper-local media has stepped in to the news provision space with enthusiasm – the success of the Brixton Blog is a great example of how this area can be reinvented – it would be misleading to think about it only in this way. Instead, it is manifesting as technology, gaming, mapping or mobile solutions, all delivered at a tightly targeted local level and united by knowledge, expertise and relevance for a particular community. The Hackney Hear, for example, is a GPS triggered audio app all about Hackney. Similarly, City Maps  offers personalised maps themed around passion points such as food or nightlife, with content created by individuals who know and love an area.

Twitter, in particular, appears keen to move into the local discovery space, posing a threat to location centric services such as Foursquare, who seem unable to fulfil their initial promise. A few months ago they acquired Spindle, a location based social discovery engine which aggregates social media, date, time and location information and delivers recommendations to the user on the most interesting things happening in their immediate location. Similarly, in the last few weeks of 2013 they have been testing a new timeline called "Nearby", which uses a map based feature to show tweets close to a user's location, regardless as to whether a user follow the tweeter or not. The test may be part of an effort to get more users to share their location, helping make the network much more locally relevant, and of course attractive to local advertisers. It also has the potential to help organise the Twitter timeline in a much more structured, accessible way.

The new opportunities in hyper local media, coupled with big players like Twitter striving to improve their levels of local data capture, will open up a whole new world of big data in 2014, which advertisers can use to target on a much more granular, local level. Geo-located tweets for example, can be overlaid with social and demographic data, capturing how people behave, their mind-set and their attitude, all cut by a target's location. This breadth of detail will give advertisers the powerful tools needed to reach their audience, and adapt their message and creative, at a super targeted local level.

The days when local media used to refer solely to your local paper or radio station are now a thing of the past – the next 12 months will see the term redefined as a brand behaviour, as the most adaptive companies harness the ever increasing sophistication of technology and location based data available to them.