The momentum around local online advertising is growing, especially with the expansion of the Web to mobile devices and flowering of Geo-mobile apps which need a way to make money. Today, Citysearch is throwing its hat into the local advertising ring with teh launch of CityGrid, a set of APIs which makes all of Citysearch's local listings content and advertising available to other Websites and mobile apps. The APIs include more than 15 million local business listings, 3 million user reviews, and access to 500,000 local advertisers looking to reach people near their places of business.
I sat down with Citysearch CEO Jay Herratti at IAC headquarters in Manhattan to get an overview of CityGrid (watch the video interview above). Citysearch itself is a 12-year-old site which Herratti has been updating, but it is not really growing much anymore and it is feeling considerable competitive pressure from Yelp and, even more so, from Google Local.
To counter that pressure, Citysearch already distributes its local listings content to about 100 sites and mobile apps with a collective reach of 100 million people (about a quarter of that is Citysearch.com). "I thought what if I took all the tools that we put together to build Citysearch and put it on a platter, an API and web services layer," says Herratti. Specifically, he is referring to all the descriptions of local businesses, the reviews, photos, videos, hours of operation, offers, menus, metered phone numbers, merchant messages, and more. "What if I open that up to publishers big and small?" he asks. "I let them take it and enhance their experience, and get more pageviews."