MySpace has partnered with IAC’s Citysearch to launch MySpace Local, which will feature listings for a wide array of local business along with a collection of “city hubs”–i.e. Guides which allow users to search for businesses in specific U.S. Cities.
The new channel—which goes sometime in April after an initial beta testing period–leverages Citysearch’s vast database of local business, which will receive individual listings pages on MySpace Local. On those pages, which initially will be limited to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, users can access basic information on these company’s hours of operations, location, etc. In addition, users can rate and review these businesses, and share the listings with others.
In addition, much like Citysearch’s individual city guides (such as newyork.citysearch.com), visitors to MySpace Local’s city hubs can search for businesses by using such filters as neighborhood, business category and type of cuisine (for restaurants).
MySpace has landed Coors and Outback Steakhouse are the MySpace Local inaugural sponsors.
With the launch of the new channel, it appears as though MySpace is looking to push further into the nascent local online ad market. The News Corp.-owned site has had success to date with offering local businesses the option of producing self service ads on the site. However, with Local MySpace is also entering well-tread territory on the Web. The site would appear to compete directly with Citysearch’s own sites; which themselves have been challenged of late my more Web 2.0-friendly competitors such as Yelp and Chowhound.
But MySpace believes that its local product will offer a powerful difference versus competitors, since the service will automatically highlight reviews and ratings posted by users’ friends, rather than solely spotlighting anonymous reviewers.
“That’s a critical difference,” said Jeff Berman, MySpace’s president of sales & marketing. Reviews mean “a heck of a lot more when you know the reviewer.”