Patch President Warren Webster on ‘Patch 360’ Initiatives
AOL’s Patch.com, which is now in 813 markets, is meeting internal goals and poised for success, according to President Warren Webster, who addressed San Diego Interactive Day yesterday.
Webster said Patch is now reaching 6.9 million unique visitors and has seen 194 percent growth in the past six months. The site will continue to rapidly add new communities, including some special local/vertical sites such as inner city Newark and military community sites for Camp Pendleton and Coronado, California. By the end of the year, Patch is expected to hit the 1,000-site milestone. “We’d like to have thousands more,” he said, noting that today’s typical Patch community has a population of 27,000 people.
Webster noted that one of the keys to the site’s potential success is a tight focus on potential users. The typical Patch “persona,” he said, is a 41-year-old wife and full-time mother who is a daily Web user; checks Facebook on her iPhone; and is engaged in activities involving kids, friends, school and her town.
Editorially, the site is focused on a Patch 360 initiative, hitting users in every way they need to be hit. Core to the strategy is the daily email newsletter, which integrates content from a variety of sources — especially seasonal content, which gets 67 percent higher usage. New initiatives include the Patch eSaver on Tuesdays, which show all the deals that are available in town. “Patch is all about giving people 10 things they want every day,” said Webster.
Mobile is also playing a major role in the site’s strategy, added Webster, especially for weekend use. iPhone users generate 7 percent more traffic on the weekend than the average weekday. “We could be an entirely mobile company and be just as successful,” Webster mused. “But we would never do that.”
All this is a big bet on on being an attractive local ad medium, added Webster, who said Patch already has several hundred salespeople. “We are focused on being a concierge to the Web” for local businesses. The challenge is “to find the right feature set on our site that is very, very simple, trackable and drives traffic.” Businesses need a single source like Patch to “do it for them.”
While the site runs banner advertising because businesses are used to it, “we want to put products up on Patch the drives people to retail business. Banner and click based advertising doesn’t work for local,” he said. The focus, he reasserted, is on providing solutions that are “less fragmented, platform agnostic and hugely simplified.”
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