Jonathan at Digital Street Journal offers a lengthy post on Backfence, reviewing some of what others have said, and including his own first-person observations as somebody who seems to have paid a good deal of attention to Backfence since its inception.
He addresses several points, but this one about advertising applies to us all, and I have enough experience dealing with small, locally owned businesses to know it’s true:
Problem two is often overlooked, but it huge nevertheless. Small, local businesses often have no clue about advertising. They often see it strictly as a cost item and if they do it, they either want to do it as cheaply as possible or theyâ€™ll choose a very traditional vehicle. The pizza place, the service station, the dentist. Fliers, yellow pages, an ad in the local paper. Outside real estate, I sincerely doubt that there are enough communities with enough small businesses that would be willing to fork over $$ to a local citizens media/journalism site to make it profitable. At least on a mass scale that Backfence envisioned. A Backfence would have to end up going after Pizza Hut or Dominoes because the local pizza place declined to work out a long term advertising deal. That local pizza place probably doesnâ€™t even have a website and likely is ignorant about online advertising.