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Oct 18 2006
Citysearch, San Diego Union-Tribune End Ties
The San Diego Union-Tribune has used Citysearch as the default city guide for its SignOnSanDiego Web site since 1999. The arrangement, one of several Citysearch struck with newspapers in that time period, gave The UT exclusive rights to sell Citysearch advertising in San Diego and also gave it default traffic whenever someone types in �San Diego� on the Citysearch home page. In return, Citysearch received licensing fees, the use of restaurant reviews and other UT/SignOn content, and some revenue share.

Such deals saw Citysearch through some lean times when it couldn�t count on advertising revenues. But now Citysearch has gone in a different direction, choosing to own localized sites in every major market across the U.S. (with the exception of Washington, D.C., where The Washington Post bought exclusivity from Citysearch in perpetuity).

Come Oct. 31, The UT will launch its own homegrown city guide. Already, the two longtime partners have started selling against each other. Citysearch publicly announced its presence to the San Diego ad community a couple of weeks ago at a rooftop party for media and advertisers in the historic Gaslamp district. It also announced a new local media partner: San Diego, an upscale city magazine.

We talked to Chris Jennewein, The UT�s VP for new media, about the change�s impact on his company. Jennewein noted that both sides have felt increasingly constricted in their relationship. The UT hadn�t been in any hurry to end the deal, however, because the switching costs were high.

Now that the break has finally occurred, Jennewein said The UT is eager to develop a truly local service that will stand out against Citysearch�s �national� approach. �They have a completely different model,� he said.

The new UT entertainment guide will be Open Source and will use as its primary vendor. It will also have �plenty of bells and whistles� that weren�t possible using the Citysearch platform, including the integration of SignOn�s new Internet radio station, and Flash audio-visual.

The end of the Citysearch deal means users won�t default to SignOn from Citysearch�s home page anymore. But Jennewein said that will have a negligible impact on SignOn�s traffic. It accounts for �less than 1 percent� of his entertainment guide�s traffic, he noted. Most of SignOn�s traffic from outside the area is generated from search engines.

As to whether he is worried about Citysearch�s competing sales force, Jennewein said only that he �is worried about every competitor, large and small.� But SignOn is on pace for record growth in usage and advertisers.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Peter Krasilovsky at  21:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 18 2006
NearbyNow: Coming Soon to a Mall Near You
Local online shopping site NearbyNow (which we wrote about here) is expanding. The company announced today that it will extend its service to 20 U.S. cities, including Portland, San Francisco, Virginia Beach, Tucson and Spokane. This will happen through an expanded partnership with the Westfield Group.

It also announced that its mobile search application will be available in December to receive local product information on mobile devices via SMS. The company provides a platform for shopping centers to list all their stores, product information and inventory data. NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap will sit on a panel at ILM:06 titled "A Look at Local Shopping Innovation."
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:45 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 18 2006
Second Life Brings New Life to Web 2.0
I've been hearing more and more, and becoming more and more intrigued, by the multi-player game-like virtual world of Second Life. This Popular Science article literally dives into the phenomenon and alludes to some of its local advertising potential.

Here are a few notable excerpts from the article:

... Although no major brick-and-mortars are doing business from within SL yet, they are taking note. The banking giant Wells Fargo built its own branded island inside SL, designed to train young people to be financially responsible. Wal-Mart, American Express and Intel are looking at using SL for their corporate training. And why not? With its natural interactivity and open platform for creation, Second Life, or some�thing like it, may very well be the next generation of the Web. For example, if I was online banking in SL, I wouldn�t have to browse through several static screens of text. I could just walk into a virtual bank, stroll up to a teller, and deposit real-life money the newfangled, old-fashioned way: by talking to a person ...

... To spur development early on, Linden Lab offered financial incentives in Linden dollars to residents who created areas that became popular destinations. This laid the groundwork for SL�s now-thriving economy, which currently has an annual gross domestic product of $64 million (U.S. dollars). Residents buy and sell Linden dollars for real money (Linden takes a small cut of all currency exchanges) and can do a brisk business peddling everything from developed real estate to exotic body parts for residents who don�t want to design their own. There are at least 3,000 entrepreneurs making $20,000 or more a year on SL businesses; BusinessWeek devoted a recent cover story to Anshe Chung, who earns hundreds of thousands of (actual) dollars as SL�s biggest real-estate mogul ...

... The next version of Second Life will be seamlessly integrated with the Web, making it easier for real-world businesses to sell items through SL. For example, a retailer like L.L. Bean could have a �door� to an SL store on its Web site, inviting people to jump from 2-D browsing into a 3-D saunter around, where an avatar with your exact mea�surements could try on clothes for you. Or a consumer-electronics company could offer in-person technical support from an avatar who had a precise 3-D replica of, say, that new digital camera you couldn�t figure out, and could show you which button you needed to push. As the wall between the Web and Second Life grows thinner, having an SL account might become as common as having an e-mail address ...

... Rosedale says the next frontier for SL is work, not play. In the past year, several companies have built replicas of their conference rooms in SL so that far-flung employees can meet and exchange information, and even collaboratively build prototypes of real-world projects. A company called Electric Sheep recently began selling its services as a kind of virtual architecture firm. Corporations and universities pay Electric Sheep to create office buildings in SL for meetings, events and special projects. Working in SL will only become more appealing as graphics become more detailed and SL adds voice chat, eliminating the keyboard-and-bubbles bit ...

This is something that takes the user interaction, characteristic of Web 2.0, to a new level. And it could likewise have the same commercialization potential for real offline businesses. This is something to watch closely for its advertising possibilities and for the sheer techno-cultural phenomenon factor.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  14:49 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 18 2006
Verizon Spin-Off Gets the Nod
This just in. Verizon has OK'd the spin-off of its Yellow Pages unit, Verizon Information Services, as a separate public company. We knew this was coming, but now it is official. If you thought Verizon was an unusual name, try "Idearc."

This is from the Reuters write-up:

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday said its board approved the proposed spin-off of Verizon's U.S. print and Internet yellow pages directories company to its shareholders.

The spin-off will result in a new public company, Idearc Inc. and its shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "IAR," Verizon said.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  13:22 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 18 2006
YPG Launches New 'Hybrid' Vertical
Canada's Yellow Pages Group has launched its second hybrid vertical product � a mixture of magazine editorial content and Yellow Pages headings � this one for the family-care vertical. Here is a link to YPG's press release announcing the new product. YPG's partner in this venture, and an earlier effort in the home improvement category, is Transcontinental Media.

The product targets those in the "sandwich generation" who have dual responsibility for caring for children and aging parents. The target demographic is women in their 40s, which happens to be the core audience for Canadian Living magazine, a Transcontinental property.

TKG previewed YPG's plans for this vertical in the July 13 edition of Local Media Journal. In that write-up, this is what YPG's Ezana Raswork told us:

�There is a broad set of services that these people are looking for and � they need to do it remotely because some of them don�t live with their parents, for example, and this just adds a degree of complexity. I�ve never seen a group of folks that had such a desperate need for a source to help them navigate all of this.�

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:51 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

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