Thursday, 14 February 2008

Is geotagging the future?

I was asked to write a report on Geotagging.

The more I looked into it the more I began to see the potential in getagging content and stories, especially for increasing a newspaper website’s ability to get ‘hyperlocal’.

I’ve copied a bit of the report below.


What is geotagging?

Geotagging refers to the process of adding specific data to web content which allows it to be identified in terms of its geographical location.
How this is then presented to an online reader can differ.
It could simply be used in delivering relevant information to someone when they search for a specific area, either on a specific website or a search engine such as Google.
Or the reader could set up an email alert for stories from the area they interested in and then an alert is delivered directly to them – a more refined version of Google News Alerts.

However, the presentation method that many users and providers are getting excited about involve automatically plotting the stories on digital maps.

Who are geotagging?

Many news organisations are now looking at geotagging all of their content.
The main method for this seems to involve reporters keying in the postcodes associated to their stories.
Then a piece of software strips this information out and automatically plots the news story on a digital map, sends out an email alert, allows a more relevant search etc.

Just about every major news provider is now investigating geotagging and it is expected to be at the heart of the BBC’s new local website plan.

Google News service is also experimenting with a new feature on its news aggregation service, which allows users to see stories for a given geographical location.
Currently you specify keywords, such as Chester, but this is not necessarily restricted to news stories solely from Chester, UK.
A proportion of our visits come through Google News so if we can target this better it will be to our advantage.

What is the point in geotagging?

It is thought by geotagging stories, traffic to newspaper websites will increase greatly as users will prefer the more relevant and tailor-made service on offer.
Advertising can also be targeted to people interested in very specific areas – increasing their value.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Geotagging is that it can allow newspaper websites to get ‘hyperlocal’.
Sites like merge all kinds of information such as news, public information, blogs, business directories, etc onto a digital map which users can zoom in on, right down to their own street.

If we get geotagging right we can potentially beat any attempts by the BBC to muscle into our region.
Plus we can start our own, or join forces with all the local community websites that are beginning to spring up - which could all potentially take away advertising revenue.

Many experts predict that becoming hyperlocal is the only way forward for newspaper websites.

One cheerful soul even predicts that: “If you don’t have an aggressive hyperlocal strategy, you’re not going to be around in five years.”



Google News



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