Data Sphere: Here is what people mean by “cookie cutter”
Take a good look at these screenshots from 2 different neighborhoods – nay cities – in the Sacramento region. Same layout? Check. But also . . . Same content.
Now read this quote from Gary Cowan of Datasphere in Street Fight today:
People throw out the word, “cookie cutter,” but what does that actually mean? Does it mean you have a website laid out in a way that makes sense and you use that layout across the board? Tell me why a New York website needs a different layout than a Los Angeles? What is so fundamentally different between those two markets that you would want a layout that’s completely different? That’s the only thing I can draw from the cookie cutter comment, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Problem 1: lots of reused and frankly bad content is spoiling the experience. For one, using the same everything, including content, is disingenuous to your readership and advertisers who believe they are supporting their neighborhood when they are actually only supporting your bottom line. It is cookie cutter for sure, but maybe even worse than that.
Problem 2: Let’s talk about layout for a second. Let’s face it, Starbucks works. It is efficient. It serves coffee at a local level and lots of people love it. But there are other people who prefer locally owned and run shops. When people call you “cookie cutter” they are simply stating the obvious fact that you are operate and look like a chain. Chains are not usually thought of as local or grass roots or deeply tied to the community.
One of the reasons people embrace local independent online media is because they identify with the place they live – a place that is quirky and unique. Why would the layout of a website in LA look different than in NYC? Because those places are themselves different. They have different economies, transportation, weather, people and most importantly people from those places think of themselves as different. And that difference is why they are interested in drinking at a quirky local coffee shop where they know the owner rather than Starbucks.
The funny thing is that I think you know that. You brand everything with your local media partners. When you make phone calls to sell ads you say you are calling from the local TV station. You know that people respond to local and you leverage your brand to seem local, established and engaged.
But I digress, I doubt any of this keeps you up at night. Although I bet high churn rates do. . .