Way back when I met Laurence Hooper who at the time was head product guy on AOL’s local search. He left AOL last year and I stumbled upon his blog one day where he was talking about a new local search service he was working on called Loladex. For whatever reason I checked it out today and found that the Loladex beta was live. So of course I had to give it a road test.
Here’s what’s interesting:
1. It’s a Facebook app that basically embeds a local search service into a FB page and allows you to thumbs up or thumbs down a business and add comments.
2. It incorporates feedback from sources that you choose such as Facebook friends and sources that feed data into Loladex (for now it’s just restaurant reviews from Washingtonian Magazine & OpenTable).
3. They are starting with about ten popular categories such as plumbers, auto repair, etc.
As I mentioned in my previous Facebook local post, Has Facebook Solved Local Search?, I think that the Facebook platform could evolve to become one of the best ways to find local businesses because of the size and quality of the social network. And while Loladex has put together a nice app, for now I think they are relying a bit too much on the idea that people will just add reviews.
If anything the fact that these reviews can now be spread throughout your Facebook network could make you less likely to write one for a whole host of reasons (I guess this depends on the demographic and categories they are targeting). The “pull” element can help a lot with this. I’d like to see the ability to ping my network asking for a recommendation and then allow my network to use the Loladex system to easily provide me with a structured recommendation of a particular business which can then be seen by the entire network (or not if you don’t want it to be).
Also the limitations of a set of search results for local queries is even tougher to deal with wrapped inside the Facebook navigation. There’s less real estate to use, but they do a nice job working within these constraints.
Anyhow hat’s off to Laurence and co-founder, Dan Goodman, for getting this off the ground. I look forward to watching Loladex evolve.