Citysearch in Massive Local ‘Hub’ Effort

A long time ago, literally about three years ago, I spoke to someone at Citysearch about the concept of a local ad exchange — a marketplace where merchant-advertisers could get distribution and where publishers could get more local ads to better monetize their content/pages. I and others have also been talking about an “AdSense for local” for some time. I also wrote about how local publishers (e.g., Yellowpages) are seeking ways to get qualified local clicks/leads from places other than Google.

Citysearch, according to a story appearing in TechCrunch, has created a marketplace of sorts called CityGrid. It may, as TechCrunch asserts, be partly a response to competitive pressures in the local destination game (although for ongoing success of the syndication model CS has to continue to generate/acquire UGC). But it’s part of a larger and longer-term strategy by Citysearch to become central player in local online advertising. For a long time Citysearch has positioned itself as a gateway for local business to the broader Internet. This is increasingly how yellow pages publishers (and their competitors) have been repositioning.

The challenge for many of these publishers, now that SEO is becoming more problematic at the local level, is how to get good quality but inexpensive traffic/distribution for their advertisers.

This system offers that opportunity. Everyone in one way or another is working on a “network,” which includes Google (out of necessity) but is not limited to Google. It’s not unlike diversifying a financial portfolio away from a single stock.

CEO Jay Herratti tells TechCrunch that there are over 100 partners signed up to date. This makes sense for everyone in the system. Content and local ads are syndicated (via an API) to third parties all over the place online and in mobile. Some of the partners identified include, Bing, and others. Small developers or publishers can use the system to gain additional content and/or ads rather than try selling SMB advertisers directly. This is FourSquare’s challenge for example, as it is equally the challenge of most other local startups.

Others who’ve created local marketplaces or “exchanges” include ReachLocal and V-Enable (but for mobile only). There are others beyond this thinking about syndicating their content and ads to the broader marketplace. Citysearch has created something here that represents one version of the future of local online advertising.

Here are some other recent posts about Citysearch:

The press release came out a short while ago:

Over the past 24 months, CityGrid has secured distribution agreements with leading publishers and resellers and built a performance ad engine and technical infrastructure to connect their consumers and advertisers. Internet publishers including Bing, MerchantCircle and others are integrating Citysearch content – including editorial reviews, user reviews, social media content, merchant videos, photos and special promotional offers and functionality – into their own branded listings. These pages are then monetized through advertisers from Citysearch and IYP partners.  

    10 Responses to “Citysearch in Massive Local ‘Hub’ Effort”

    1. Mike Stewart Says:


      If I recall correctly, Idearc (SuperMedia) rolled out a somewhat similiar form of content distribution within the companies internal network (although the minimum $2.50 bid for clicks was not adjusted in the same manner as Google’s content network) to advertisers to display “related” or “complementary” content on company business profiles. I am not sure if this is still the case……. Do you know if CitySearch is adjusting for aggregation and distribution with a lower degree of traffic quality vs local queries and keyword phrase specific content?

      It is crazy nuts how often/much media consultants failed to disclose those $2.50 click bid minimums.

      I am anxious to see if CitySearch incorporates a method for clients to distribute content and also get paid the same as AdSense?

      Mike Stewart

      Pardon typos…..posted from my MotoDroidPhone

    2. Greg Sterling Says:

      Mike: I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I’m going to talk to CS early next week.

    3. SearchCap: The Day In Search, January 29, 2010 Says:

      […] Citysearch in Massive Local ‘Hub’ Effort, […]

    4. Nick @ Brick Marketing Says:

      I think this new Citysearch program, makes perfect sense. It was only a matter of time before a major local yellow page type sites created some time of program like this. I would be interesting in seeing how long it will take for others (Yellow, Superpages, etc.) to create similar programs.

    5. Greg Sterling Says:

      Nick: Yes . . . others have been discussing this for years literally. Question is: if we get four, five, six of these what happens to ad inventory? Are there enough local ads to go around or will everyone simply be distributing everyone else’s ads?

    6. Best Ever Hardinge Shopper’s Hub | Manufacturing and Metalworking Says:

      […] Citysearch in Massive Local 'Hub' Effort « Screenwerk […]

    7. Nigel Hawkins Says:

      Great site with lots of relevent information
      Glad i found it



    8. dipanshu sharma Says:

      Greg: we just launched with as our first iFRAME (online) implementation.. we have signed few “thousand” more, coming online by april. regards, D

    9. Greg Sterling Says:


      Let’s set up a time to do an update.

    10. Citysearch Revamps SEM, Buys Part of OrangeSoda « Screenwerk Says:

      […] See this previous, related post about CityGrid. […]

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