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Village Soup

Richard Anderson, the owner of this site that covers two towns in Maine, said, “Research shows that 50 percent of the market contains non-readers, non-newspaper readers, and 75 percent of the market contains non-newspaper advertisers. So there’s a huge opportunity out there to solve the problems or the needs of those people who are not looking to the newspapers.” Anderson has invested more than $5 million in developing the site, which had about 9,300 unique daily visitors in June 2006 and 1.2 million page views. He said recently, “We’re not cash-flow positive yet, but we’re gaining dramatically, and the printed paper has done a tremendous amount to help us get there.”

Among the steps Village Soup has taken to build online revenue are:

  • On-demand advertising. Online posts feature last-minute sales or promotions that would be outdated in the weekly print edition.
  • Enhanced directory listings. Advertisers can pay for featured listings in the business directories posted at
  • Online auctions. Local businesses can sell products through the web site’s continuous online auction, with proceeds going to the news site as an advertising credit.

The site has had its greatest success so far with a local database of real estate listings, which includes a link to town maps. Realtors are charged a fee to list in the local database. Anderson said, “The real long-range need is for businesses such as restaurateurs to decide it is worth the extra 15 minutes a day to put their daily special online, and to get more businesses to participate in the sharing of inventories in community databases.” The ultimate goal is to build a platform, which Anderson calls Village Soup Common, which can be adapted to communities of about 30,000 internationally.

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