Nicholas Carlson at BusinessInsider.com continues his aggressive reporting about Patch this afternoon with a pair of items that suggest the bulk of AOL red ink is being spilled across the network of hyper-local news sites.
According to documents obtained by Carlson, the outside sales force of 150 people or so enlisted by Patch has generated only $7.8 million in 2011 ad revenue. One source told Carlson his team was just handed new, impossible-to-meet December sales goals and that if these targets are not reached, he and his colleagues will be out of a job:
One sales person told us “it’s been a disaster,” because local advertisers can–and he says, should–more effectively spend their money on Groupons and Google search ads. Another sales person told us one of his clients spent $300 to sponsor a Patch site for two days, and got 12 clicks.
Carlson has also put together a slide show of the top ten Patch sales people and the year-to-date revenues they have been responsible for. As Ad Age reported last week, Patch recently merged three different pairs of sites, including those in Concord and Clayton, California.