MySpace and Citysearch have partnered for the launch of a local business directory called MySpace Local. The new site lets MySpace users review, search, and share content about their favorite businesses, while leveraging Citysearch’s stockpile of local business directory info. Though MySpace Local is currently in private beta, users can expect an official launch in the coming weeks.
After getting a look behind the curtain, I can say that MySpace Local is fairly straightforward. Essentially, MySpace has leveraged the wealth of info Citysearch has compiled over the years (addresses, hours, reviews, maps, menus, etc.) to create a hub for recommending local businesses to friends.
The core of MySpace Local is the small business listing pages, which allow users to rate and discuss a given business and view the activities of other users. MySpace has leveraged its activity feed for this feature, so that any action a user takes on a listing page — for instance, giving a business a low rating and review — is broadcasted to that user’s friends.
The site also aggregates and highlights these actions on the listing pages themselves, allowing users to quickly assess their friends’ opinions of a business. In theory, this means a user could use the site to discover a new restaurant, check its menu and hours, judge the decor (through embedded photos and video), and read friends’ ratings and reviews — all without leaving MySpace.
In addition to the listing pages, the company has also announced metropolitan hub pages for MySpace Local. Essentially, the hub pages serve as search portals for users wanting to discover businesses located in a metropolitan area. As it stands, Citysearch is providing the bulk of the search and editorial muscle for the hub pages, although MySpace executives say that prominent reviewers and celebrity bloggers will provide additional content down the line.
Of course, MySpace’s strategy isn’t entirely new. Citysearch has already revamped itself (and partnered with Facebook) in an attempt to add social media flair to its business directories. It’s also worth noting that Citysearch’s partnership with Facebook already allows its users to endorse local businesses and incorporate their activities into Facebook’s news feed.
And, since we’re connecting the dots, it seems timely to mention how Yelp also offers the majority of functionality found on MySpace Local’s listing pages (and for a number of different business categories), while MySpace Local will only feature restaurants, bars, and “nightlife” at its U.S.-only launch.
Does this mean that MySpace Local is doomed? Hardly. More than any of the other sites mentioned, MySpace generates a lot of activity in the U.S. market. And, though Citysearch is clearly grasping for relevance, the amount of data it has compiled over the years makes it a force to be reckoned/partnered with for local business search.
Although MySpace has been losing ground to Facebook, it’s still built critical mass in terms of its membership. Likewise, while Citysearch continues to employ a sizable editorial staff for the creation of its content, Yelp primarily relies on member submitted reviews. Both MySpace and Citysearch have an enourmous opportunity here, but it will take savvy leadership and a solid interface to pull it off.
For a look at MySpace Local in action, be sure to check out the company’s demo.