LDCRE Interview with Fred Mercaldo, Founder and CEO of Geocentric Media.
Geocentric Media is the largest owner and manager of city-based websites throughout the world. LDCRE provides commercial real estate listings to all of Geocentric Media’s 500+ city and regional based websites. Fred and his team develop all their own websites, create and integrate relevant content for each of these websites throughout 500 markets while providing a number of services to businesses and consumers in each of their markets.
LD: I know you initially entered the geo-domain space (websites with city, state, regional, or country based URLs) with the acquisition of Scottsdale.com. Scottsdale is a well-known city, and one of the top travel and golf destinations, it is obviously a great website. But what made you recognize it was a great investment, what did you see beyond what it was?
FM: After my purchase of Scottsdale.com 11 years ago, I researched many different City branded sites and made note of what I liked, and what I didn’t like. Then I communicated often with other owners in other markets, and soon had a very robust platform that served not only the local Scottsdale area community, but also the many visitors that come to Scottsdale each year to vacation. The revenue was exceptional, and it is greatly assisted by the fact that the domain name is the actual City(dot)com, which gives us a ton of natural type in direct traffic, and it also is a very trusted site by our visitors.
LD: The concept and business plan for Geocentric Media is pretty amazing where you have a company (Geocentric Media) developing all these websites in cities all around the globe, then providing each website with content specifically tailored to its immediate market. Can you tell us how you came up with this plan and how it has evolved or refined since you originally envisioned it?
FM: Actually, there was not one day where the idea was born; rather it evolved from many years dealing with the investor base that believes in the “geo domain” industry. It became apparent that in order for an individual to acquire a City site, and then develop a working software platform model, and then generate content, pay for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), promote on social media, pay programmers and graphic designers to develop banner ads, and then train a sales team to sell local advertising this can quickly become a very time consuming and expensive endeavor. Geocentric Media is in the process of providing a turn key solution for every City(dot)com owner, as we do it all, and share the revenue with the site owner.
LD: Providing content for news websites, or city (dot) com website seems like a never ending job. How does adding Commercial Real Estate Listings into your website provide visitors over all your websites with enticing content?
FM: Our visitors tend to be affluent business oriented individuals, looking for other business referrals, “things to do” and upcoming Events, and basically everything having to do with the City itself. Real Estate has always been one of the more popular sections, whether it be residential or commercial, visitors trust the content that is listed on City branded sites. Additionally, people feel that they will see ALL available properties on a City site, rather than on an individual broker’s site, which may only list their own listings.
LD: Can you tell us a little bit about the services you provide to local businesses and consumers in the markets you serve?
FM: Whether it be our Restaurant sections, Event Calendar, Real Estate listings, Jobs, our our comprehensive Business Directory, we try to provide our visitors a complete resource for what they are searching for. We do articles on Featured Local Businesses, and try to identify “the best of the best” in many categories.
LD: Geocentric Media has grown in multiples over the last 12 months, congratulations it has been very exciting to see this up-close. Can you tell us about the growth you see in your pipeline for next 24 months?
FM: While we still have much to do, it is a very exciting time here at Geocentric Media, Inc. We have no less than 20 new content partnerships to “plug in” that will happen over the coming months. Our team consists of some very experienced and successful SEO, content, social media, marketing, and programming talent that the industry has to offer, and having this deep pool of talent helps. Once this new platform is completed, it is scalable to the point where numerous Cities can be launched each day. While the City(dot)com brand is very powerful, our research shows that 75% of all City online brands in the world are either undeveloped, or very underdeveloped; our size and buying power can really help the single site owner become successful. We believe that by the end of 2019, we will be over 2,000 city brands worldwide.
LD: I heard there is a funny story about you once being the largest owner/collector of Andy Warhol paintings. Can you give us the backstory there?
FM: I wish it were paintings! My interest was signed and numbered prints. Basically, while living in Chicago and rehabbing a 1927 Michigan Avenue coop apartment, I needed artwork to fill my walls. I went to a local gallery that was featuring Andy Warhol’s, and I purchased 10 of the “Cowboys and Indians” collection. I had lots of wall space, so I went back and bought more….and I really fell in love with his art. Warhol died unexpectedly from complications of gall bladder surgery, and his artwork price’s, both original canvas paintings along with signed and numbered prints, skyrocketed. Rather than sell, I decided to buy more! The next 5 years of my life were totally dedicated to Andy Warhol prints, and the people I met, people I sold to, people I purchased from, and places I traveled to remain some of my best memories ever. It was a great time, and in many ways the business model mirrors today’s domain name market.
For more information on Geocentric Media: http://www.geocentricmedia.com/