It appears the Cincinnati Enquirer is about to take yet another step along the scale of social media innovation by a traditional media member to help increase reader loyalty, advertiser commitment and continued relevance in their market despite the industry trends plaguing most of their brethren. I stumbled across a new location-based service application doing some research in the iTunes App Store called Porkappolis (iTunes link)– a hyper-local, location-based service focused on the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky market. The author of the app? Enquirer Media.

Porkappolis on iTunesThe application offers standard LBS functionality, but in a hyper-local, custom skin. Cincinnati was once the slaughterhouse capital of the U.S. and has been known as “Porkopolis” and the Pig City for years. Cincinnati.com cleverly named the application after the moniker. What’s even more cool is that coupons, deals and helpful tips in the app are found under the heading of “Bacon.” Awesomeness.

The application has some variations on the themes. You get stickers for checking in, visiting different countries (I assume … gave me one for the U.S.), etc. You are ranked in a leader board with others in your network and globally. (My first checkin ranked me 19th in the world and I was 10th after leaving a recommendation for a nearby restaurant … it’s not limited to Cincinnati use … so you know this thing is brand, spanking new.) There’s a tab for finding your friends, but also one for finding “locals” to help you connect with other users who are close, but you may not know. Overall, it’s like the other LBS’s (Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl), but different enough to be interesting.

But the addition of a hyper-local, custom, location-based application to a traditional media effort (the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com are Gannett properties) is more than interesting. It shows a traditional media outlet again thinking beyond the boundaries of the print edition and even of their website. The opportunities to monetize a locally-relevant LBS are profound. It’s a chance for local advertisers to serve relevant messages to a hip and trendy audience in an emerging platform, but one that is custom to their community.

If you think I’m off-base here, just ask my buddy Todd Earwood how his TryItLocal.com is turning a Groupon-like effort into hyper-local revenue generators for chambers of commerce and their members.

And I say, “once again,” because the Cincinnati Enquirer has been the bleeding edge digital leader for Gannett’s attempt at transformation. James Jackson explained a lot about their business model with citizen blogging and utilizing social media to me back in August of 2008.

Porkappolis - Screen Shots - iTunes

What Porkappolis does is take the national or international play of a Foursquare and makes it more relevant by making it local. Because the Enquirer is pushing it, there will be far more per capita adoption of the tool locally than of others after its initial launch. Why would Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati-based restaurant, spend money with one of the biggies if they know there’s a large adoption rate for Porkappolis in their core market?

For the record, I found a post on Cincinnati.com from November 17 talking about what Porkappolis is, but it’s not something I could find any record of being mentioned publicly. There are several posts and what-not that seem tied to the company getting the app approved and through some cursory sites that look at apps specifically, but no coverage of it. The post I found looks to be a landing page for people asking what it is.

I reached out to my contacts at Gannett’s corporate offices, who knew what I was talking about, but politely encouraged me to talk to the Cincinnati folks about it. Since I discovered this late tonight, they probably haven’t seen my messages yet. I’m sure they will in the comments. Plus, there’s enough out there online to make me believe the app’s publicity is about to happen. You can download it from the app store now, so it’s there, even if the URL lands on a page that says it’s in private beta.

Jim Lenahan, a product developer for Gannett media company, has several check-ins using the app posted on his Twitter page starting Nov. 20th. There is a Porkappolis Twitter account saying the launch is coming soon. I also found a Facebook application page (one of my Gannett contacts was listed as a ‘Friend using this App.’ Interesting.)

So, at the risk of jumping the gun on this, there it is. I sure hope their launch is, in fact, looming. It certainly impressed me and is a digital strategy I would assume many other newspapers or local media outlets will try to emulate in the coming months. Sure, I’m making assumptions on how they might use it, but I’ve talked to Jackson before and know he doesn’t just throw noodles on the wall to see what sticks. You can bet there’s not only thought, but business goals behind this. And it just might be cool enough to catch on.

What do you think? Could a hyper-local LBS make a local newspaper’s efforts more relevant to newer generations? Digital savvy users? Coupon-seeking readers? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://colbywg.com Colby Gergen

    These are the types of ideas, solutions and products that universities, prestigious schools of journalism (say, I don't know, the one I attend at Mizzou) should be incubating in their undergraduate classrooms, from freshman to graduate-level courses.

    Even if this fails, and I don't believe it will, I applaud the Enquirer for at least giving change a chance. I'm sick of hearing, “design for the future of journalism,” “build business plans for the future of journalism,” and so on. Journalism needs to make moves now, and the Enquirer is willing to make those moves.

    I sincerely hope this succeeds and this type of forward-thinking trickles down into our education system.

  • lynnelle

    A hyper-local LBS strategy could make a local newspaper more relevant – period. The plight of traditional publishing reminds me of the plight of the railroads years ago. Railroads thought they were in the railroad business while they were in fact in the travel business. Newspapers – the ones that are surviving – are learning they're not in the newspaper business but in the information/advertising business.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Smirk. Figures the example is Skyline Chili. So Cincinnati.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      That's all you got, Pepper? Heh. Behold the Skyline, bro. I'm thankful

      Louisville has a couple locations.

      • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

        Yep, that's what jumped out at me.

        The other thing – about freakin' time. All these hyperlocal deal sites show how media is missing the boat, considering that they originally were the hyperlocal deal sites in the beginning (the newspapers themselves). That media missed the boat, and then got greedy with the advertising prices.

        I hope it does well, and is then rolled out by other papers.

        • http://colbywg.com Colby Gergen

          It's expanding on the “Names, Names, Names!” hyperlocal journalism model shown in Made To Stick. People rely on, and love, familiarity, whether it's the names of people, the sharing of local spots, etc.

  • http://amymengel.com amymengel

    Do you think Gannett/Cincinnati.com built this from the ground up, or is this a white label of Gowalla or another existing LBS? That's one thing I can see happening a lot in 2011 – FourSquare or Gowalla or SCVNGR creating skinned or white label versions of their tools for more specific localities.

    @amymengel

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good question. Amy. While I don't know for certain, I'm guessing they used a

      white-label LBS. There are a few out there. It's certainly highly

      customized, but I think a newspaper having a robust technology department to

      build apps is a bit of a stretch at this point in time. They're innovative

      and cool (or at least some Gannet properties are) but I don't think they've

      bridged the gap to be a technology company.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Good question. Amy. While I don't know for certain, I'm guessing they used a

    white-label LBS. There are a few out there. It's certainly highly

    customized, but I think a newspaper having a robust technology department to

    build apps is a bit of a stretch at this point in time. They're innovative

    and cool (or at least some Gannet properties are) but I don't think they've

    bridged the gap to be a technology company.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    That's all you got, Pepper? Heh. Behold the Skyline, bro. I'm thankful

    Louisville has a couple locations.

  • Brad Simonis

    The first thought that popped into my head echoed Amy's. It's a fantastic idea but how many newspapers have the technology (and marketing initiative) to pull this off. A white label LBS explains a lot; and means there's a whole marketplace for providing customized LBS apps specifically for this market. I would love to see it in San Diego where the Union Tribune's online property “Sign On San Diego” gives me little reason to sign on (and this is probably at least their 3rd iteration of an online presence).

  • http://twitter.com/connectyou Keri-Idea Girl Media

    Very cool – Since I'm close to Cincinnati in Wilmington, it is great to see something exciting happening in my back yard!

    This effort does indeed seem relevant to for gaining additional local advertising. Some newspapers have already been utilizing mobile marketing as a source for gaining business collaboration, so it also seems conducive to building and streamlining with that avenue in reaching the public.

    Thanks, Jason, for doing the research and making the information available. :)

  • http://prblog.typepad.com prblog

    Jason: They've been discussing this for a few months. But it looks like @eachnotesecure has been busy.

    Great scoop and I agree about the innovation. Hoping they integrate it closely with their print and online products.

    A Foursquare/HuffPo hybrid at a local level?! My inner-nerd squeals like a school girl over the potential.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.jodiontheweb.com/ jodiontheweb

    Thanks Jason for the wonderful post. We are very excited about the potential for projects like this. We think it makes a ton of sense for local media companies to embrace location based services and do what we can do best- local!

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  • http://twitter.com/MomentFeed MomentFeed

    I wrote about the potential for this in October: http://www.maxgladwell.com/201…/

    Glad to see my friends at DoubleDutch leading the way.

  • http://twitter.com/MomentFeed MomentFeed

    Ah, now I see you don't know who's powering it. DoubleDutch is a great white label check-in app/platform: http://www.maxgladwell.com/201…/

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  • http://twitter.com/seamusiv Sean Biehle

    From talking with @eachnotesecure prior to launch, it looked like they were going to white label Double Dutch.

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