Friday, May 2, 2008

Between and Among the Hyperlocal - Intergeostitial Marketing

We've been experimenting for some time with internet marketing to the areas that are difficult to define in terms of set geopolitical boundaries and zipcodes. Areas you know, and can describe to your friends and neighbors, but nobody else knows about. Most hyper-local marketing initiatives by advertisers and media organizations (like and zero in on consumers and readers by zipcode, town or community name. A very few are able to organize by the concept of "neighborhood" - but when the area and group of consumers isn't definable from the outside with legal names and numbers, it must be defined from the inside (i.e. by "social media techniques") by place names, descriptions, relationships and a loose aggregation of zipcodes, boundary lines, landmarks and perhaps business names.

We love making up new words (like our last "avonym"); so here's our term for this sort of Internet Marketing - "intergeostitial marketing". Interstitial literally means "standing between", and refers to the space among other notable interest items - interstitial marketing refers, on the web, to those nasty pop-unders that appear between web pages and sessions. The "geo" obviously refers to geospatial determinants - think of an area you'd like to market to in terms of what the Google map looks like, bounded by lat/long degrees - not in terms of what the post office or county treasurer's office thinks of it. More like a politician's view of an area, with boundaries drawn around people and their activities, among referenceable geospatial landmarks.

Our primary example is Dulles South, an area of southern Loudoun, western Fairfax and western Prince William counties in Virginia - generally known as Dulles South from its relative placement to Dulles Airport. Our visitors and readers habitually drive on local segments of Rt. 50, 28, 29, 606 and 629, live in HOA-managed neighborhoods or the few small towns, shop easily among the three counties, typically identify themselves with respect to the county (i.e. eastern Loudoun or western Prince William), send children to private schools in multiple counties, and include a large number of zipcodes that to most marketers don't seem to relate to each other in terms of demographics. But they do, to those that live there.

So in order to market effectively to this interstitial area, it's mostly a social marketing effort, driven by a deep connection, interest and understanding of what seems to outsiders as a very transient and loosely-coupled demographic. News, information, business openings, bake sales, school events, traffic incidents - all these information types need to be promoted, harvested and leveraged to build and maintain the tapestry of keywords/keyphrases that make sense to the area. The advertising and marketing needs to be coupled with the network of local affiliations among bloggers, small-town newspapers, home businesses and email networks. This kind of intergeostitial ad network is also a very new concept - more traditional "vertical ad networks" aren't yet quite getting the concept that a "vertical" market can be a self-defined and self-maintained "super-neighborhood/businesshood", that basically revolves around family life.

We've got lots more to share on this concept and practice of "intergeostitial marketing" as our experiment continues - let us know of an area you feel is similar.



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