Citysearch: Act II
Greg Sterling takes a fresh look at the once-mightly and often overlooked Citysearch and likes a lot of what he sees.
For all its ups and downs over the past couple years, Citysearch retains a strong local brand and, according to Scott Morrow, Citysearch executive vice president of search and products, is delivering better click-throughs and a better ROI for local advertisers than general search engines could. To drive traffic Citysearch optimizes its content at the profile page level for search engines and also buys paid-clicks. Citysearch sells clicks and calls on the site to local businesses but also offers broader distribution on Google, Yahoo and beyond through a relationship with MatchCraft.
Citysearch had 41,000 local advertisers and about 500,000 user reviews on the site. The company has an ambitious program to boost reviews by 1 million in the next few months.
To that end, Citysearch has started to create ego-based incentives for people to write more about their favorite local businesses and local experiences. Insider Lists is a set of recommendations and reviews that feature collected writings of individuals. These are not user profiles per se (a la MySpace or Yelp), but it starts to approach that. How far Citysearch will go in the direction of “social networking,” to acquire more content, remains to be seen.
Yet the strength of the site is the mix of user-generated reviews and editorial content (i.e., “Citysearch lists” and “Best of Citysearch”). The company also has a local sales force, an asset many of its competitors lack.
Another question is what will be the relationship between Ask Local and Citysearch within IAC going forward. Ask Local’s content is from Citysearch and the two sites could be seen as somewhat redundant but there's also no reason the two sites couldn't co-exist as distinct doorways into local. We'll see which brand has more local traction over time.
Technorati Tags: local, social networking, content
Thursday, May 18, 2006