IAC/Citysearch just announced a contest for third party developers to come up with “the next hot local guide app for the Web and mobile devices” on their Sidewalk.com domain.  It’s called the “Sidewalk: Right Here Right Now Contest”.

BTW – banana peel, fire hydrant & pigeon?  Subliminal messages?

Greg Sterling thinks this is interesting because it will help CitySearch come up with ideas that it never could do on its own.  This is probably true, but if I were a gambling man I would buy Zynga poker chips and bet there’s more to it than that.

As part of the contest, qualified contestants “will receive a link to download the developer kit so you can start building your prototype.”

Now please correct me if I am wrong, but if you’re CitySearch would you spend time building a SDK just for a contest?  Doesn’t seem like a very good use of company resources if you ask me.  So what’s really going on here?

As I mentioned in my previous post about Yellow Pages APIs, I think the next big innovation in local search is going to come as the publishers that control all of the yellow pages listings data release that data via APIs and let the volcano vaporizer users come up with cool applications that sit on top of that data.  Right now I think the majority of Web marketers don’t have much of a clue as to the value of local search traffic.  Clicks for DUI attorneys are certainly worth more than those for ring tones and acai berries.  But if the data is suddenly easily available and new sites start cropping up that appear to be making $, you will start to see even more local search sites than we have now.  This will make for a very crowded field, but if you’re the data publisher and your ads are riding along with the data, you may not care who ranks #1 in Google, as long as the ad clicks belong to you.

So my suspicion is this whole Sidewalk contest thing is merely a Trojan Horse for CitySearch to ease into the listings API strategy.  I would not be surprised that upon the announcment/launch of the winner, IAC announces that now anybody can build their own local guide app.  And that would be a pretty cool announcement.

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10 Response Comments

  • steve espinosa  June 26, 2009 at 11:38 am

    or it is just a clever way to get links to sidewalk.com and they launch another iyp on it

  • Andrew Shotland  June 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    mcstud, all they had to do is launch a new site on that domain and it would get a serious amount of linkjuice. No stunts needed.

  • jlbraaten  June 27, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I think you make strong point here. Instead of trying to cling onto dwindling market share in reference, why not move to data services and ad revenue. I certainly wouldn’t bet against your theory.

  • nick  June 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Hmmm…I wonder if there could be a conflict of interest. If I could develop a killer app, why associate it with with CitySearch?
    I’ll have to think of the benefits of submitting my web app since it’s also in the local space.

  • Carpet Cleaning  July 4, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Every year our corridor is filled with the new addition of the bulky yellow pages.
    People don’t take it inside and it left the corridor as a nuisance.

  • Richard Butler  July 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I really like blogs post which has lots of comments, I am assured that this is worth reading. Anyway I believe that it is still a good campaign for sidewalk right?

  • Ronnie Sullivan  July 9, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Yeah Richard i agree with you that it worth reading…

  • sara@plrhealth  July 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    That would be cool if I had a sidewalk! LOL i like contest though Yeah i don’t know if its a good idea to relate this to citysearch though 🙂

  • John Musca  September 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Does anyone use the hard copy of the yellow pages these days. I use Teldir.com (which now redirects you), or if you need something specific just google it!

  • pangoo  November 5, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Like your articles, thank you for release.