– The Beginning of the Yellow Pages API Onslaught?

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by andrewsho

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 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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