In its ongoing quest to build business review content and connect with local businesses, IAC's city guide and business listings site Citysearch has partnered with small business marketing and referral platform MerchantCircle. The two plan to cross-promote ad offers and share content, hoping for a whole greater than the sum of their parts. IAC was among investors recently providing the company with a $10 million funding round.
MerchantCircle will offer co-branded online marketing packages, giving local advertisers enhanced Citysearch listings and placement, combined with MerchantCircle's reviews, photos and coupons. Current Citysearch advertisers can opt to have MerchantCircle profiles created automatically, and in the future, MerchantCircle content will be added to Citysearch listings pages.
"The packages we're offering are customized around locations and categories where Citysearch has great strength," said MerchantCircle Chairman Ben Smith. Citysearch's biggest advertiser vertical is arts, entertainment and leisure, which includes restaurants, nightclubs and spas.
The deal also gives MerchantCircle access to national Citysearch advertisers. "As part of this relationship, [Citysearch will] be able to sell ads on our pages," said Smith. That will most likely come in the form of MerchantCircle sponsored profiles, which typically cost "in the tens of thousands" of dollars each month, according to Smith.
In addition, MerchantCircle stands to grab traffic through Citysearch's PPC ads served on Citysearch and its affiliate sites including MSN, Yahoo, Google and IAC's Ask.com.
Earlier this month, IAC joined other investors in giving $10 million to MerchantCircle. "We thought [MerchantCircle] could really catch fire and we decided we really wanted to support it and become [a partner]," said Citysearch President Jay Herratti, adding that IAC's minority stake investment and the partnership came about simultaneously. As part of the relationship, IAC Media and Advertising CEO Peter Horan will join the MerchantCircle Board of Directors.
Other IAC properties could be integrated with MerchantCircle in the future. For instance, content from IAC-owned Service Magic, which pairs homeowners with local contractors, as well as local business review content from recently-acquired Insider Pages, would be natural fits.
"Where we can actually partner within IAC and outside IAC, we'll do it," said Herratti. Whether a MerchantCircle acquisition is in the cards for IAC, however, he would not say.
In a similar deal, yesterday Idearc Media's Superpages.com announced an alignment with coupon provider Entertainment Publications to include printable coupons from local businesses in listing pages.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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