Planet Discover Finds Local Success Normal

    June 26, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Bringing a sharply focused local search experience to local media sites means making disparate data play nicely together. Planet Discover CEO David Lenzen wields the pointy stick and tells WebProNews more about it.

Once upon a time, if a local media property cared at all about the Internet, they wanted to know how many searches got to their sites. It was a mildly useful number, but nothing compared to print circulation and the rich profit margins of advertising in those pages.

Google and Craigslist came along and demonstrated there could be more to such information than what a printing press cranked out each day. Those two sites became profitable, while the fortunes of local media look back at better days and sigh wistfully.

Some take a more proactive approach, as we learned from Gannett-owned Planet Discover, and its CEO, David Lenzen. Once a media company understands that local search isn’t web search, they can focus on targeting the right audience.

On the tech side, Planet Discover does what one might expect of it, pulling content from a media source’s archive, or classifieds sites with local-related listings, for example, into its search product. This redeploys and becomes available to searchers at the local media site.

Normalization of data comes into play when reaching for all of these pieces of information. Lenzen cited an example of crime statistics from various law enforcement agencies, all local to a given area. Those agencies may all use different means of archiving that data.

By normalizing the data, local search becomes a way for people to look closely at crime statistics for a given neighborhood. In another example, Lenzen said Planet Discover had to brew a solution quickly for an organization in South Dakota, which like many states found itself suddenly and immediately relevant in the Democratic primary season.

Such needs couple with the demand to monetize searches should lead more media properties into the world of search, as the need to complement declines in conventional revenue streams increases in importance. Planet Discover may be in a sweet niche to capitalize on this, thanks to their Gannett backing and previous success.