When Insider Pages was sold to IAC’s Citysearch, it seemed like it was probably a distress sale. Many of the Yellow Pages/ratings and review sites of 2004-2006 were falling apart at the same time. Since then, however, Insider Pages appears to have thrived.
“We are profitable and growing every month,” says General Manager Eric Peacock. “I can’t tell you how many people assume that acquisition by big company means their death. But I’m saying this is the reason Insider Pages is flourishing.”
Basically, it is all about scale for Insider Pages. Citysearch handles all Insider Pages’ sales, as well as many of its administrative roles — allowing Insider Pages to run mean and lean with 10 people in Citysearch’s San Francisco office. One success metric for the site has been a big jump in its review count (i.e., Google gulch). It now has nearly 1 million reviews under its belt, or double the number it had before its acquisition. A major reason for its jump in reviews is a fund-raiser scheme in which the site pays schools, bands and other community fixtures $1.50 for every new review posted, and 50 cents for other reviews.
The service also extends Citysearch’s reach with 5 million or 6 million unique visitors a month — largely parents and home owners. While it does well in all the metro areas, like Citysearch, Peacock says it provides a somewhat unduplicated suburban audience as well.
Looking at the broader picture, Insider Pages has been a test case for the creation of the Citysearch Partner Network. Since then, Citysearch has reached outside IAC to form deals with larger sites, such as AOL and Superpages. “What we found is we could amortize one sale, one product across both sites,” says Peacock.
While the positive signs abound, Peacock says there is plenty of room for progress. For instance, “there is not a ton of frequency.” Many users come in via SEO, and they aren’t coming back often enough.