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Gannett Scales Back Metromix In New York: Shades of AOL Patch

Published on January 17, 2012

Gannett is paring back its online offering New York Metromix, perhaps the most significant of its 65 localized Metromix editions. Local business site Capital New York broke the story yesterday, and called it a “shuttering.” But a Gannett spokeswoman told Capital New York that “Some Metromix employees in editorial, advertising sales,administration and …operations” were eliminated, and that New York Metromix was “evaluating its options” for moving forward.

It appears likely that Metromix will return to its earlier model of aggregating content, but a New York Metromix staffer expressed his doubts that “There’s no way they’re keeping it up.”

Gannett Tribune Company formed a joint venture to acquire Metromix in 2007, when it was local only to Chicago but had enjoyed a healthy 10-year run. Users were typically urban and between 21 and 34. Metromix is currently live in 65 cities, including Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Advertisers include local businesses, like Shanghai Restaurant in San Francisco, but heavy-hitters like Chase Sapphire, ZipCar.

No word yet on the fate of the remaining 64 operations. But, going ultra-local appears to be a young and troublesome model. The Metromix trouble comes just a few months after AOL began scaling back its own local-advertising and locally-generated online offering, Patch. Forbes reported in October 2011 that Patch.com was “burning off $40 million per quarter,” after AOL acquired the outlet in 2009. Patch’s more than 800 editors were advised that their budgets for freelancers would be slashed, articles would be republished across the country (despite the ultra-local focus), and editors were encouraged to dedicate their time to pulling in ad revenue.