in Marketing & Media

What Is Hyperlocal? Can Someone Please Tell Me?

Four Corners Pizza in Pelham, NY

“Hyperlocal” is the new buzzword in media and advertising. The word is especially in favor among community-oriented blogs and Web technology startups. But the word suffers from ambiguity. By extension, the promising sector it attempts to represent suffers as well. I work in the Internet media industry, so I’d like to figure this out. What do you think?

Let’s break this down: We know that “local” generally means media or advertising focused on a specific location or area – versus regional or nationwide. We think of local when going to the supermarket, the doctor, the dentist, the movie theater, the car dealer, restaurants and florists. Local refers to services, businesses, government and other things local – in your city, town, village, neighborhood or block. Local has long existed through media and markets, even trivial gatherings and word of mouth.

Then what is hyperlocal? Media or advertising that are more local than, um, local? If local (pure, on its own, without the hyper) was a more specific term, then hyperlocal might make sense.

At the time of this writing, Wikipedia says: “Hyperlocal content is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is written by an individual resident in that area.”

Wikipedia’s definition of hyperlocal is very similar to general understanding of local. But what do I know? So I asked friends on Twitter what is the difference between local and hyperlocal. Here are some of their replies:

xplusone@maxkalehoff I think that’s the weather on your block!

gilliatt@maxkalehoff Hyperlocal is a buzzword. Local is a word.

buckleyplanet@maxkalehoff would that be your local ADD community?

matthewhurst@maxkalehoff re local hlocal plz read my wiki entry and help with the page!

jaysbryant@maxkalehoff my take is you might have a better chance to raise $$$ calling it hyperlocal….

jaysbryant@maxkalehoff I’ll take a stab at it, in my case LOCAL would be Mercer Cty NJ, HYPERLOCAL would be just my township West Windsor, make sense?

mattquint@maxkalehoff I don’t think there’s any standard, but I think of “hyper” as applying to a niche community within a “local” geographic area.

PeterHimler@maxkalehoff local=boston.com; hyperlocal=http://loudounextra.washingtonpost.com/ Story here: http://bit.ly/NQj4B

thelittlebrierAND ME! RT @maxkalehoff: Someone PLEASE tell me the difference between LOCAL and HYPERLOCAL when describing business, media, advertising?

sebprovencher@maxkalehoff I always assume it’s the geographical scope: cities (local) vs. neighborhoods (hyperlocal).

The responses conclude there is no common understanding of hyperlocal. So why don’t we end the confusion by just deferring to the shorter, simpler local (without the hyper)? I think there’s a big future in local online media and advertising, but it will be bigger and come sooner with less friction. Confusing, unnecessary jargon is friction to growth.

What do you think?

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