Citysearch Parent IAC Makes 'Strategic' Investment In OrangeSoda

Citysearch will disclose Monday a suite of services for online advertising and marketing that give local and small businesses access to CityGrid Complete's network of 100 Web and mobile partners, as well as search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing services.

OrangeSoda will provide the SEO and marketing services. IAC/ InterActiveCorp, Citysearch's parent company, made a "strategic" investment in OrangeSoda, but Neil Salvage, executive vice president of adverting at Citysearch, says the deal didn't hinge on inking the SEO partnership.

OrangeSoda built out a white-label offering that lets any company outsource SEO services. And while the financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, Salvage acknowledges the investment does not make the partnership exclusive.

"This is the first investment IAC has made in a SEO/SEM platform company," he says, acknowledging that Citysearch's 200-person direct sales team can't possible support all businesses that run pages on the site.

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Citysearch needed a way to help small businesses optimize their Web sites. CityGrid gives local businesses the ability to reach millions of consumers monthly by building custom content ads distributed across the Web. OrangeSoda will provide SEO services designed to drive consumers from all the major search engines directly to their Web sites.

Salvage sees OrangeSoda's SEO offerings as a bridge to link the business owner's Web site to its Citysearch profile, as Google continues to build out Google Maps and personalize search.

CityGrid clients receive access to an integrated Web-based dashboard, allowing advertisers to actively monitor and manage their campaigns and ensuring that they receive the highest-quality leads for their advertising budgets.

Rather than offer a performance-based model, which counts clicks, Citysearch will base the service on a flat fee. The client will set the metrics, which could include phone calls and visits to the Web site, or any metric deemed important.

CitiGrid opens Citysearch APIs and allows publishers and application developers to tap the database and use the content to build connections with consumers and small business owners. Unlike an old traditional advertising model, Citysearch can share revenue with those who chose to use the content.

It works when publishers and application developers serve up elements of the business profile, such as phone number or address, and to consumers on relevant search queries. Through CitiGrid small business, owners gain exposure on local directories, PC and mobile search engines, as well as social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The advertising gets driven to profile pages and content on Citysearch.

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