Citysearch Unveils Custom Films for Local Advertisers

Citysearch is introducing advertorial video and ditching the leaderboard.

In its ongoing efforts to woo small local advertisers away from traditional local ad venues, the IAC/InterActiveCorp firm is offering local proprietors short videos highlighting their establishments, produced by commercial short-film producer, TurnHere. Pre- and post-roll ads in separate editorial video content are set to come later this year.

“The leaderboard is a unit that’s just reached its life expectancy,” said Scott Morrow, EVP, product and marketing at Citysearch. The large narrow ad format, continued Morrow, “is low value for the consumer, and it’s low value for the advertiser.”

The local business search, ratings and review service is also introducing a large square “mantle” unit and will offer a smaller “cityscape” placement in the future. Sponsorships of “Insider” section content will also be available. The company has decided to focus more on those select display offerings rather than cluttering the page with multiple placements. “Having less ads actually provides higher performance,” said Morrow.

Citysearch has sold 700 short videos to local businesses, such as New York eatery Cuba and custom cake creator Snooky’s. The firm is offering the videos exclusively to its local pay-for-performance advertisers, according to Morrow. Thus far, 300 of the clips will be live on Citysearch business profile pages in top markets including New York, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago.

The company is including the films as part of ad packages provided to businesses spending around $800 or more on performance-based advertising each month. For advertisers spending below that amount, continued Morrow, “It’s an up-sell opportunity for the local sales person to effectively provide video.”

Citysearch has established relationship with short advertorial film producer TurnHere to create the mini-movies, which are sold and hosted by Citysearch. TurnHere’s network of filmmakers produces professional films for local and national advertisers, such as InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, and has relationships with real estate firms to produce short videos about properties for sale. The Citysearch videos also will be made available on TurnHere’s site.

“It’s always been our plan to collaborate with partners that have local sales forces,” TurnHere CEO Brad Inman told ClickZ News.

In January, Citysearch announced plans to ramp up its sales operation, opening a new sales office in Atlanta with intentions to nearly double its inside, outside, and national sales teams. The effort signaled the company’s focus on scoring local advertiser dollars, putting it in direct competition with online yellow pages and classifieds services.

“It’s important for us to be in the local markets selling local customers,” said Morrow, who noted the company will be providing a wider variety of lead types to local advertisers, such as appointment scheduling with potential customers, in the coming year.

Though local advertisers are an important market for Citysearch, the company is developing video ad offerings for national advertisers as well. Pre- and post-roll video ads within editorial video content accompanied by display ads will be offered to national brands, most likely around early Q3 of this year, according to Morrow. The company sells display placements to national advertisers directly, through agencies and via ad networks. Currently, Citysearch sites don’t feature editorial video content.

In addition to unveiling the new ad offerings, the firm has added content features to its city-centric sites, including more personalized and contextually-relevant navigation displaying recently viewed business profiles and a star-based ratings system to replace its former number-based ratings.

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