For a number of weeks Citysearch has been testing a new Deals product online and last night it officially launched an iPhone and Android app (location on the Android app is provided by Skyhook Wireless). Although it’s reported elsewhere that “several deal aggregators” are providing the deals inventory for CityGrid (e.g., AdWeek), currently deals content come from only two sources: The Dealmap and Groupon.
Citysearch’s JP Bedoya told me that the company is not currently using all The Dealmap’s deals; it’s using humans to selectively “curate” deals. CityGrid will also source deals from its Citysearch sales force and its own advertisers. The company is also in talks with other deal sources and will be adding them as they sign on.
Citysearch will be integrating the deals content into its “Citysearch” mobile app (sister company Urbanspoon will not be getting them) though it has chosen to launch Deals as a separate app. Bedoya said that the company wanted to make things very simple for consumers in doing so. It’s an interesting move and part of the larger debate about horizontal v. vertical strategies for publishers.
The chief virtue and differentiator of the Citysearch Deals product is that it combines “push” and “pull.” Daily deals (e.g., Groupon, LivingSocial) are almost entirely a “push” product, although The Dealmap also allows users to search for daily deals and coupons. The Citysearch deals inventory includes daily deals but lots of more conventional coupons that don’t expire daily.
Online users can search for deals with keywords or browse by category. On the mobile Deals apps, users will see deals around them but they can also specify different locations and search for deals that way. Eventually Citysearch plans to incorporate geofencing and push alerts to users.
There are also filters on the mobile app so that users will see deals near them only in selected categories. Indeed, the entire app was designed to be highly user centric and remedy some of the perceived deficiencies in the current deals offerings.
The specific Citysearch Deal apps may turn out to be popular. However the far more significant aspect of all this is that the deals content now becomes incorporated into the data that are syndicated out through the CityGrid API and accessible by third parties. Anyone now can be a deals aggregator in this way.
As a final note Ask, an IAC sister company, early on attempted to be a kind of deals aggregator in the period immediately before Groupon and daily deals by launching Ask Deals. However the move failed to generate much consumer interest and is now gone.