Aol. has made some waves in the local Internet scene in the past year or so. With the proclamations of hiring hundreds of ‘real’ journalists (not sure where that stands, anyone at Aol. care to comment?) and the plan to have Patch.com be the hyperlocal site/blog of choice in hundreds of new locations (updates please?) Aol. is taking a real run at the local Internet marketing scene.
In an attempt to add to this effort (or confuse it since I can’t tell the difference at this point) the Aol. content machine has resuscitated an old Aol. property “City’s Best”.
As AOL prepares to “quintuple” the number of hyperlocal blogs in its Patch network, the company is bringing back its City’s Best lifestyle and dining guide across 25 metro areas. The original City’s Best was introduced under the old regime at AOL over a decade ago, but the company abandoned it two years ago.
Given AOL’s desire to dominate local, it can’t rely solely on Patch for ad revenues and audience share. It also has to take aim at the current leaders in the space such as Yelp and CitySearch as well as the more narrowly targeted e-newsletters Thrillist and Comcast’s Daily Candy. Among the 25 cities featured in theCity’s Best network are Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
I get that the local market is diverse and needs a multi-pronged approach to dominate it but when any company starts to try to be all things to all people and to take on all comers competitively we know how that usually ends.
City’s Best supposedly has apps for the iPhone and Android but a search of both markets yielded nothing for me.
So how do you use local? I have been doing some “on the spot” market research as of late and it appears that along with discovery of new places the most important function of local reviews etc is to back up or confirm referrals from real friends etc. Is there room for as many local review sites as there are travel sites? Is it confusing to figure out which is the best and most reliable? Do you care?