YCombinator-backed Seeing Interactive, which helps small publishers maintain market share against national competitors like AOL’s Patch, has changed its name to OwnLocal today, expanding beyond providing ad services for newspapers and launching a daily deals network for publications and communities. “We want to help local markets own their own markets,” says CEO Lloyd Armburst.
The Daily Deals platform will join OwnLocal’s suite of product offerings including white-label Yelp-like directory Local Hero, Web Builder and a print to web ad converter. OwnLocal wants to equip smaller local papers with the tools they need to sell ads and get revenue to fund local reporters, Daily Deals being one such tool.
So what makes this offering different from Groupon and LivingSocial? “We’re going into markets that haven’t even heard of Groupon,” says Armburst. Armburst is focused on leveraging the power of the hyper-local market and the hyper-local newspaper industry which is a tough nut to crack. “What is working nationally, that we can wrap up and make work in a small local market,” he says.
The product allows for multiple deals, social features, flash sales and syndication. OwnLocal has also hired a part-time person to be a “deal master” of sort sorts. The deal master will provide writing services as well as consult publishers on deal viability and build trust, crucial in more rural markets which don’t trust “those people from California.”
In beta for two months, the OwnLocal Daily Deals platform, which will take less of a cut than Groupon/LivingSocial and will allow you to cap orders, will will be opened up publicly to OwnLocals network of over a 100 publishers today. Armburst tells me he has two major partners already in the pipeline to use the platform.
OwnLocal (previously Seeing Interactive) provides Web-based software to local newspapers and gives them a white-label service for selling online ads and services to local businesses. Seeing interactive creates an online presence for local businesses and leverages the existing salesforce of local newspapers to sell those ads. Its software works with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter so that newspapers can remain at the center of local.