Hey Jeeves! Should IAC Put CitySearch Under Ask?

Ask Local is a big component of IAC’s relaunch of Ask, and it should be, given the tons of quality local reviews, ratings, listings and other content that IAC’s CitySearch has to provide. Theoretically, it gives Ask a leg up over the other portals – and IAC Head Barry Diller has said as much.

But a question I’d put to the butler is why IAC doesn’t formally put CitySearch under the Ask umbrella. CitySearch, after all, has pretty good traffic from Google, MSN and other affiliates, reaching 14 million unique viewers, according to ComScore. But it isn’t much of a brand, and it is unlikely to spend money to become one.

Probably, CitySearch could benefit from the massive amount of promotion that Ask is about to receive. After all, wasn’t it good when AOL retired Digital City to focus on AOL Local? Wasn’t it good that Yahoo decided to put everything under Yahoo Local instead of building Yahoo Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local Search etc.?

Tribune’s Recycler: Back to the Drawing Board

Recycler.com, The Tribune Co’s erstwhile Craigslist killer, is going back to the drawing board, having suffered mediocre sales and usage since expanding to 14 markets in May 2005.

“If you build a model that assumes revenue from upsells and sponsor link revenue, you’ll be disappointed,” said Tom Finke, director of corporate development at Tribune Interactive, in comments blogged by Rob Runett at the NAA Connections conference in Orlando February 20-22.

To be sure, Tribune basically kept the formula that made The Recycler a success: free ads for consumers, and cheap $8 ads for corporate entities, with lots of upsells. Online, however, hasn’t worked. The combination of Craigslist’s free offerings, unfamilarity with the product outside of LA, and the absence of a complementary (and revenue generating) print product has hurt Tribune’s expansionary efforts. This despite extensive promotion in the print paper, deep integration with Tribune Interactive’s verticals, including Cars.com, apartments.com and ShopLocal; and a neat feature allowing users to compare ads posted on other websites.

Tribune-KR-Gannett: After Knight Ridder

Everybody knows Knight Ridder is “over,” as a former executive recently put it to me. But what does that mean to “TKG,” Tribune, Knight Ridder and Gannett’s joint venture to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into CareerBuilder, a successful recruitment portal; ShopLocal, a fast-growing but jury’s still-out online inserts and sales portal; and Topix, an online news sorter that is cutting edge but commercially undeveloped.

Also at stake, but more peripherally, are Knight Ridder’s 1/6 role in Classified Ventures, which produces Cars.com, Homescape and apartments.com, and recently purchased HomeGain. It also holds a minority share in Tribe Nets, a social network that is experimenting with games but is a probable write-off.

If Knight Ridder is sold, TKG has change of control provisions in place that could provide allow the other partners to buy CareerBuilder and the other online properties under their market value. If Gannett is the buyer, it would be a relatively seamless change, although Gannett would become a very dominant part of the consortia, to the discomfort of Tribune. If McClatchy is the buyer or a venture firm, it isn’t as clear. One assumes that McClatchy or other buyers would maintain the CareerBuilder affiliation, but might not participate as partners.

Daily Candy Tempts Local Media Companies

Daily Candy, the fashion-and-trends newsletter with local editions in eight markets and copy right out of “Sex and The City,” is on the block for $100 million. The value seems high, but its young, trendy, female readership could be a good fit with media companies like Fox or IAC that want to hit the local marketplace in non-traditional, non-journalistic formats.

Our guess is that it would be less of a fit with strait-laced, sales-oriented sites like ShopLocal; online Yellow Pages like Verizon SuperPages that are trying to create a retail connection; or the increasing number of newspapers that have developed online shopping verticals. But that’s ok. The latter, especially, would balk at the price, and the journalism.

Daily Candy was started in New York in 2000. After receiving a $3.5 million cash infusion from former AOL President Bob Pittman in 2003, the site has now expanded to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and starting in March, Atlanta.