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Oct 12 2006
Judy�s Book: Self-Serve Doesn�t Work, Other Lessons
Judy�s Book cofounder Andy Sack posts very candidly about the difficulties of launching a review/IYP site. Sack, who also founded Abuzz, one of the original review sites, and worked on Firefly, knows something about this subject by now.

Founded in 2004 at around the same time as Insider Pages, which just changed CEOs, Judy�s Book claims 1 million unique visitors; a national footprint; and content distribution deals with Google, Yahoo!,, and InfoSpace.

Issue No. 1 for Judy�s Book is achieving critical mass, market-by-market. �Momentum in any one location doesn�t transfer to others � you have to fight the same fight over and over,� writes Sack.

Getting repeat visits is tough, too. �Converting visits into signups, signups into repeat visits, & then into active use requires lots of money or passion or (best case) both at once.�

Despite the hype surrounding local online commerce�s arrival, Sack believes it remains very, very difficult to reach decision makers at potential advertisers � and to get them to write a check (something that my clients usually refuse to believe). �Self service for this market won't work � I think you need feet on the street to address this market,� he concludes. Another factor is the difficulty of good SEO, which is critical since 30 percent of Judy�s traffic is coming from Google. Google holds all the cards and they �keep changing the rules,� he says.

On the plus side, Sack says in a follow-up post that the user community has proved to be really responsive. �Consumers will do a *LOT* of work to get a deal (esp. something free).� He also notes that �people love to ask & answer questions on topics they care about.� (Thanks a lot to Niki Scevak�s Bronte Media for pointing to Andy�s Blog.)
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Peter Krasilovsky at  18:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]

Oct 12 2006
Citysearch Reboots: A Talk With EVP Scott Morrow
Citysearch has been around the local scene for so long that it often gets overlooked. But the IAC division plans a significantly higher profile in early 2007, with a relaunch of its site, a big push on local and national sales, and re-branding efforts that will do away with the �Yellow Pages� moniker, among other things.

The efforts will be headed by two recently recruited executives: CNET�s Scott Morrow, who is now exec VP, product and marketing, and�s Neil Salvage, who is now exec VP, sales. �We�re going to really position it in the market. It has been a few years since there�s been a crisp message,� said Morrow, during a phone interview.

For starters, Morrow said the site will be redesigned to convey more of a local flavor for users. Instead of a single look and feel for every U.S. market, local landmarks and other graphical things are going to find their way onto the site.

The site�s content will also feel considerably more local. Each of the top 10 markets has its own local editor, supplemented by freelancers. In all, there are 100 editors on staff. These efforts will be ramped up, along with some new deals with third-party content providers, such as city magazines and verticals.

San Diego Magazine, for instance, has been announced as a key player in San Diego, where Citysearch and the local newspaper site Sign On San Diego have broken off ties after a multiyear partnership. �Content is key to making the business work,� said Morrow.

There will also be a renewed focus on user-generated content. Citysearch actually pioneered �best of� contests, user reviews and other user content in the 1996 to 1998 timeframe. But during the intervening years, a lot of it has gotten stale. Recently, some 1997 reviews were spotted on some sections of the site.

By the end of the year, however, Morrow said that all time-sensitive reviews for restaurants and other categories will have been posted within the past 12 months. �It is really a Herculean effort,� he said. Other reviews, such as tourist destinations, will be kept on the site. �A review of the Statue of Liberty is probably still relevant� for several years.

Merchant information is also getting a fresh look. �It gets a bad rap� for being self-serving, but can be very useful if done properly, said Morrow. A dedicated sales team is going to take charge of capturing the merchant info, and will put it up within 24 hours. This might prove to be an advantage of Citysearch�s sales team, which Salvage is currently bulking up. Salvage has also created a national sales division.

The merchant info, however, won�t be part of something called �Citysearch Yellow Pages.� �Having category coverage in traditional Yellow Pages categories is essential to helping users,� said Morrow. �But there are legacy issues associated with �Yellow Pages,� � he said. �We are going to reframe it in a way that fits the brand.�

Morrow also sees �huge opportunities� with a host of mobile services, which have just been relaunched. But mobile won�t be affecting the bottom line anytime soon, he said. The market is just getting heated up.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Peter Krasilovsky at  18:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 12 2006
Are These Guys Really Multimillionaires?
Being a frequent YouTube user, I just stumbled upon this. Chad and Steve, the cofounders of YouTube, have sent a message to the world about the Google acquisition in what other form but a YouTube video clip. Either these guys are shocked and hysterical at their newfound wealth (in Google stock), or they are simply in disbelief that they were able to get someone to pay nearly $2 billion for a site that specializes in distributing clips like this. Either way, congratulations to them. This clip could become a defining moment for the onset of Bubble 2.0. But we hope not.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  00:12 | permalink | comments [6] | trackbacks [0]

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