IAC was a strategic investor in MerchantCircle’s recent B round. The first fruit of that investment is a reciprocal deal where each company is cross promoting the other’s services. Citysearch merchants will gain access to MerchantCircle tools and services and MerchantCircle will gain access to Citysearch and Insiderpages distribution and video advertising opportunities.
From the press release:
Through the deal, Citysearch will accelerate its growth by leveraging MerchantCircle’s scalable and fully automated platform for acquiring and engaging local merchants and distributing local content. MerchantCircle has successfully engaged over 300,000 proactive merchants to build out their profile page, upload photos, create coupons, and interact with millions of local customers online. Citysearch has the opportunity to tap into this large community of registered local merchants and paying customers.
Additional key details of the strategic partnership include:
Co-Branded Sales Packages: As part of its automated marketing programs, MerchantCircle will offer three Citysearch-specific sales packages to merchants.
Joint Membership for Merchants: Existing Citysearch members will have the opportunity to participate in the MerchantCircle community.
Citysearch Advertising Sales Force: MerchantCircle will tap into Citysearch’s local sales staff and national advertising team.
IAC Seat on MerchantCircle Board of Directors: As part of IAC investment, Peter Horan, CEO of IAC Media and Advertising, will join MerchantCircle’s Board of Directors.
MerchantCircle will become a potentially powerful sales channel for Citysearch, while the Citysearch association gives MerchantCircle additional prestige and credibility that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. The partnership appears to be quite complementary. While Citysearch is very strong in certain categories and major metros, MerchantCircle has strengths outside top metro markets. Here are some facts provided by MerchantCircle about its customer base:
- Over 85% of MerchantCircle merchants are outside the major metros in the US.
- Nearly 25% of MerchantCircle merchants are not found in the print Yellow Pages.
- Over half of our merchants do not have a website of their own
With its new, higher profile and this strategic relationship it won’t be that long before MerchantCircle becomes a takeover target.
Here’s a partial screenshot of one of the hybrid pages on the MerchantCircle site (click to enlarge):