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Citysearch Adds SMS-Based Local Search For Mobile Phones

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Citysearch formally launched its text-based mobile local search service today: CS411 (27411). There's also a send-to-phone feature (see, e.g., "Hotels, Burbank CA").

Doing the same search online vs. CS411 on a mobile phone yields somewhat different results. Users get four results in SMS, which were not identical to the online search results I got for the above search in my quick test. They were, in fact, more geographically accurate. (I received results only for Burbank vs. adjacent areas.) Citysearch consumer ratings are also provided, which you would expect and are central to the consumer value proposition.

Results I received were also "sponsored." Rather than a relevant advertiser link at the top of results, there was an advertiser-sponsor referenced at the bottom. The advertiser had nothing to do with my particular search for hotels but I would expect over time that will change.

In speaking with Citysearch EVP Scott Morrow a couple of weeks ago he stated that mobile was being seen as an important channel and future traffic source for the company and that Citysearch would be rolling out other mobile offerings in the not-too-distant future.

One of the interesting aspects of my discussion with Morrow was about "lead quality" and the differences between a click and a call and a map view, and so on. Citysearch is experimenting with different pricing strategies to better reflect this concept of lead quality, in terms of what the local advertiser actually receives.

Ask.com recently launched a mobile application, the local search component of which ("business listings") is built on Citysearch content and allows users to sort by rating, which is a very nice feature. Both companies are owned by IAC.

Here's a related post on my blog about the current state of mobile local search and related issues.


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