• dotNeighborhoods - The Business Model

last modified February 24, 2014 by tomlowenhaupt

Like ice cream, holidays, and babies everyone loves the concept of dotNeighborhoods. But finding a successful business model will determine if they remain a civic dream or help move us to a more livable and prosperous city. Here we present a model for their allocation, oversight, and operation.


How Does It Work?

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(Commons Photo courtesy of sporkwrapper.)

 Advantages of Local Control

A business model based on local control provides several advantages:

  • Stronger Local Businesses - pointers to locally produced products and services: food, clothing, retail establishments. 
  • Local Jobs - resulting from ad sales, domain name sales, the "stronger local businesses".
  • Better Community - awareness of local problems and opportunities and tools to address them.
  • Trust - "It's our knowledge center. We made it. We maintain it. We control it. It connects us. It provides for our future. It is our network."
  • Central Point of Contact 
  • Advertising or Other Revenue
    • To sustain the operation of the dotNeighborhood.nyc.
    • To sustain the local community
  • Improved livability and quality of life.
Neighborhood Domain Name Allocation Flow
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Questions in need of resolution include:
  • What would be the structure of this 3 level allocation mechanism?
  • What functions will each level perform?
  • How will they be implemented?
  • What would be its relationship with the current city and Internet governance systems?
  • How would success be measured?
Revenue Balancing

SoHo.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, TimesSquare.nyc - these dotNeighborhood names provide the potential for significant revenue. Others such as Longwood.nyc have little local retail and little apparent likelihood of economic viability.

If we look for a parallel situations we might find one in the world of baseball. There the leading team in terms of value is the New York Yankees, valued at $1,700 million, with the least valuable the Pittsburgh Pirates at $304 million. As per Forbes:

"Thanks to more than $400 million sent from high-revenue to low-revenue teams, several teams with low attendance were able to post operating profits of at least $10 million." 

And we might add, the revenue balancing provided the Yankees with teams to play in a competitive environment.

We need a similar revenue balancing plan for the dotNeighborhoods, a way to move adverting revenue from UpperWestSide.nyc to Longwood.nyc.

On Pizza Boy
and 2nd and 3rd Level Domain Names

On the south east corner of 74th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, there's a small pizza parlor named Pizza Boy. It typically has has two full time employees and is opened daily from 10 AM to 11 PM. Deliveries are available.

Here's a look at PizzaBoy through the lens of JacksonHeights.nyc.

  • PizzaBoy.nyc - For PizzaBoy the most expensive domain name would be the second level name, PizzaBoy.nyc. This might cost the proprietor $50 per year. This assumes the name is unique in the city. If there's a competing shop with the same name, an auction might be used to determine ownership, and raise the price.
    • Pizza.nyc - Purchasing the second level domain name PizzaBoy.nyc, and designating it on the registration form as a pizza restaurant, would entitle the restaurant to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory of the Pizza.nyc second level domain name.
  • PizzaBoy.JacksonHeights.nyc - This third level domain name would cost the parlor's proprietor $25 per year, payable to the JacksonHeights.nyc Trust. Purchase of this name would provide for placement in the directory of neighborhood pizza parlors available at Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc.
    • Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc - Purchasing the PizzaBoy.JacksonHeights.nyc third level domain name would entitle it to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory of the Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc domain name, for an additional fee of $10 per year.
  • The Restaurants.nyc Portal - By virtue of PizzaBoy purchasing rights to either name it would be entitled to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory under the Restaurants.nyc second level domain name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The dotNeighborhood names are a new resource that should be thought of as being owned by the residents of the respective neighborhoods. A "commons trust" provides a legal structure capable of supporting their long term development.

Broadly speaking, a "commons trust" is a legal entity responsible for protecting shared assets that are inherited from past generations. In the instance of the dotNeighborhoods the asset is being created from a historic resource on behalf of current and future generations. (See Trust for .nyc Neighborhoods.)

Success of the dotNeighborhoods requires a sustaining business model. While grants and government support might provide start-up assistance, the basis of the model presented here is local advertising revenue. It provides two advantages:

  • Local advertising would provide suitable revenue to sustain the operation of the dotNeighborhoods.
  • And keeping local ad revenue in the neighborhood is a fundamental economic development practice.

Indicators say the potential of local ad revenue is significant. A 2009 Fast Company article "Can Anyone Tap the $100 Billion Potential of Hyperlocal News?" details the plans of AOL and the New York Times to capture local advertising revenue in Maplewood, New Jersey. While these efforts have not succeeded as expected (see this NYT article), the potential exists for revenue to be generated by these neighborhood sites. And if we can keep that revenue local, mom and pop and and all neighborhood residents will benefit. 

Allocation

The following presumes assignment of the 352 dotNeighborhood names by the city of New York to a Trust for Neighborhood Names. It uses the JacksonHeights.nyc domain name as a model, with the assumption that the name has been assigned to a "JacksonHeights.nyc Trust." (See further detail on name governance in the sidebar under Neighborhood Domain Name Allocation Flow an on this Governance page.)

Revenue Sources

The JacksonHeights.nyc domain name is the home turf for Connecting.nyc Inc. In the below we've taken a picture of the neighborhood's economy, its social and civic order, and how the domain name might be built-out to provide advertising revenue. We begin with the following assumptions:

  • A broad awareness campaign will make the public aware of the utility and desirability of the .nyc TLD.
  • Contractual obligations between the Trust for Neighborhood Names and the Neighborhood Councils will require that local businesses are highlighted on all pages.

Local Advertisers

The following intuitive domain names offer minimal to significant revenue potential.

  • Arts.JacksonHeights.nyc - This intuitive domain name will provide an arts directory and calendar of timely information on local activities. It will not be a big money maker, but the Jackson Heights Art Club, local movie theaters, restaurants with music or art exhibitions will reach local residents. As well, art instruction and supply providers will find it profitable to place links on this page. By contract, the operator will be required to highlight local events.
  • Schools.JacksonHeights.nyc - This site will be frequently viewed by parents and adults needing additional training or education. Teachers offering their private tutoring services and those with products to sell to students and schools will pay to have their links on this page.
  • Restaurants.JacksonHeights.nyc - This page will be frequented by those looking for a local restaurant. With a neighborhood map and a cuisine and alpha search capacity, the Restaurants page will provide great benefit to residents and visitors. It will provide local sales agents to keep revenue in the neighborhood.
  • Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc - Hunger for a slice? Say "Pizza in Jackson Heights" to your phone and see a map with rated pizza parlors. Residents will learn to look for links to parlors offering specials. Every pizza parlor will pay for a link on this page. Those who purchase a pizza page, e.g., pizzaboy.JacksonHiehts.nyc, will be listed in the restaurant listings - on the maps, alpha and cuisine lists.
  • Gov.JacksonHeights.nyc - Type this and find out about the local civic organizations, the community board, and city processes.
  • RealEstate.JacksonHeights.nyc - Local agents should find this inviting.
  • Bars.JacksonHeights.nyc - An Alpha list and map of local drinking establishments will present residents with recommendations and will present a ripe advertising space for local saloons.
  • Furniture.JacksonHeights.nyc - Furniture stores and resident re-sales.
  • Hardware.Jackson Heights.nyc - Need a screw?
  • Psychiatric.JacksonHeights.nyc - Need rebalancing?
  • Optometrists.JacksonHeights.nyc - Can't see straight?
  • Doctors.JacksonHeights.nyc - It hurts here...
  • Drugstores.JacksonHeights.nyc - God, where can I find one at 3 AM?

Additionally, "meta" names would be provided:

  • index.JacksonHeights.nyc
  • retail.JacksonHeights.nyc

Notes:

  • Name groups, or clouds, will be assigned, so that someone entering Eyegalsses.JacksonHights.nyc or  Optometrists.JacksonHeights.nyc would be brought to the same page.
  • While the general model calls for a sales person per neighborhood, there will likely be instances where neighborhoods can't sustain an agent. In such instances an adjacent neighborhood agent or a city-wide agent would address the local needs. (See Revenue Balancing sidebar.)
  • The stewards for the neighborhood site - JacksonHeights.nyc - will decide if a third level domain name is to be assigned to a local or a city-wide agent. And note that the Fast Company article points to the expectation of the Times and AOL that national product advertising will be a big part of the revenue pool. Sales to these entities could be facilitated by third parties. 
  • Non-local ads would be accepted but presented in positions of lower prominence to the local.

Domain Name Sales

The Neighborhood Councils will be empowered to set rates for names to the left of the dotNeighborhood names - for example, Third-Level.RedHook.nyc.  For examples of third Level Names see here.

Other Revenue

Early support might be provided by grants from government or foundations, Kickstarter-like campaigns.

Street Names

  • 37thAvenue.JacksonHeights.nyc
  • RooseveltAvenue.JacksonHeights.nyc

Public Engagement

One of the advantages that will arise with local stewardship would be public engagement in making these trustable sites via rating like the following.

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Residents and visitors can evaluate the quality of material presented on each page. They can also suggest ways to improve an article or page.  

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Related Resources

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    Key .nyc Pages