MerchantCircle Becomes Traffic Source for Others

Picture 12Whatever you want to say about MerchantCircle’s robo-calling (in the past according to the company) the company has become a dramatic success story in the local space. It generates millions and millions of page views monthly through SEO (via Google). According to a release out this morning, more than 20 million page views.

The point of that release however is to announce a new pay-per-action program leveraging that traffic and featuring third parties, which will be getting leads from MerchantCircle:

The PPA platform enables partners to leverage the MerchantCircle network and deliver highly targeted customer leads to their local business clients on a pay-for-performance basis. Initial partners include OpenTable, Citysearch, ServiceMagic, Yodle, NearbyNow, eLocalListing and others.

Is this a version of arbitrage? It could be argued both ways.

Regardless, what this means is that third parties who sell clicks/calls/leads are now getting traffic from MerchantCircle. This can be seen as part of a “traffic diversification” strategy being broadly pursued by players in the local space.

4 Responses to “MerchantCircle Becomes Traffic Source for Others”

  1. David Mihm Says:

    I will “say what I want,” I guess🙂 … my take is that even if the robo-calling and underhanded sales techniques have stopped, a company that has built itself up on these kinds of techniques shouldn’t be called a “success,” let alone a “dramatic success.”

    Note that Matt McGee has continued to receive comments from irate SMBs on his two Merchant Circle posts this summer.

    FWIW, the complaints about MC from MY prospective clients have dwindled but I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage other startups to use their business development “strategy” as a model!

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    I know there are a lot of folks who agree with you and I’ve expressed my own negative views of that practice to MerchantCircle directly. But I do think their growth in page views is very impressive.

  3. Andrew Shotland Says:

    David, you know I love to jump in on any conversation involving MC. The fact is these guys are a player in local search and IMO based on their size and strategy, they are becoming a player of some significance. I guess that’s what interests me about them. Most other local search sites seem to be using similar playbooks while these guys seem a bit unique in their SMB-centric, B&C county approach.

    Right now Google holds a pretty good spot as the middle man between a lot of local search traffic and the sites that need that traffic for their advertisers. If a site like MC can aggregate all of the big local advertisers in one feed and serve them up efficiently to their own traffic, it’s not too crazy to think that they, or some other smart company, could start serving these ads on other sites and create a local search version of Adsense, which could be kind of huge I think.

  4. Lynnea Bylund | ADMAX Says:

    Complaints about past MC robocalls and/or poor customer service have always been overplayed in our opinion – owing perhaps to a certain intimacy MC has with the search blogoshere – for example there are far more complaints of a much more significant malfeasance directed at Yellowpages.com but that ATT unit is much less seldom the blunt of criticism by a certain caliber of genre bloggers and luminaries.

    MerchantCircle has achieved much with relatively little and has pioneered a unique space that other platform developers misperceived as mere IYP.

    Our sense of the ‘continued’ MC complaints, inferred in this thread, is that they are 99.9% born of merchant ignorance.

    Back on subject: We don’t yet see how the new third party PPAs will benefit MC free and paid members, and we are leery of roudy outsiders like ServiceMagic and eLocalListing shaking things up in the MC ecosphere.

    Other than that, big kudos to MC.

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