Tag Archives: Angie’s List

Angie’s List Adds Groupon-Like Group Buying

Angie’s List, the ratings service for home services and medical providers in markets around the U.S., is adding Groupon-like group buying offers to services and medical providers that receive high ratings from its members of “B” or above – the criteria for all its advertising.

“The Big Deal” offer is being developed in-house, and is being tested in three markets: Indianapolis, Chicago and Washington, D.C.,. It has plans to expand to 25 cities by the end of June and eventually serve 50-80 cities.

Founder Angie Hicks tells us that the company sees group buying as a direct descendant of other marketing that the company provides, including advertising, coupons, direct mail, etc. The key Angie’s List differentiator is that every service provider will be certified as high quality by its member ratings.

Another differentiator is that Angie’s List is going to go hyperlocal with the offers. “We are used to targeting down to the neighborhood level,” she says. “We can get down to the level of a section of a zip code. It is of real interest to us. Dog walkers can take advantage of this. Otherwise, it would only be limited to large companies.” Hicks also says that the company is not being confined to specific thresholds for group buys. Each offer will be different.

Typical offer categories might include dentistry, massage therapy, carpet cleaning deals, and roofing deals. “There may be real opportunities there,” says Hicks. “We’ve got 500 categories that we’ve collected reviews on.”

The service expects to offer one deal a week per city. Some offers will be marketed on a non-local basis, so members might see five deals in a week. Hicks adds that participating service providers will be providing Angie’s List with commissions from sales. But it won’t be as high as the 30-50 percent that other deal a day providers are getting. “For us, it is an added revenue stream, but it is not our sole stream,” she says.

An added benefit of providing the service is its viral nature. Non-members can participate and learn more about Angie’s List, perhaps joining the service, which costs up to $67 per year. Hicks says that the service currently has over 500,000 active household accounts –including paid and free trial accounts — and over one million members.

InsiderPages Launches Doctor Finder

If you do a search on a doctor, you may come up with five or six spammy, ad-supported links. But now InsiderPages, a property of IAC’s Citysearch, has launched DoctorFinder, a new service that hopes to simplify the complex task of finding good medical recommendations. Revenue-wise, the service is hoping to get the high CPMs associated with medical search, which can be in “double digits” for general practitioners and as high as $80 to $100 for specialists such as Chiropractors.

The new focus on medical follows similar efforts by Angie’s List, which launched medical provider ratings last year for its paid members.

General Manager Eric Peacock tells us that most review sites have focused on restaurant reviews and beauty salons “but it is hard to pick a doctor. We’ve been coming up short.” He says that the joke at his company is that “most people spend more time picking out a flatscreen TV than picking a doctor.”

Medical information is especially well suited for InsiderPages user demographics, which lean towards “middle aged mothers who may be looking for a pediatrician that takes Blue Cross and is located two miles from their house,” says Peacock.

Insider’s efforts will collect three pieces of information: types of insurance accepted, practitioner credentials, and patient reviews. The reviews are based on a 10 question survey that asks key questions such as “does the doctor spend appropriate time with you? Does he listen to your questions?”

Peacock notes that Angie’s List also has a survey, but it is “really, really long,” he says. Angie’s List also is more of a metropolitan area provider, while InsiderPages is more urban, he adds.

The Insider surveys are being conducted in partnership with HealthGrades, which already has a 1.2 million review database, and information on 800,000 U.S. doctors. Peacock notes that HealthGrades is not directly competitive with InsiderPages because its primary business is providing data to hospitals and other medical businesses.

Competitive is information provided by the key insurance companies may prove to be more competitive. Anthem, for instance, partners with Zagat for its online review database. Blue Cross, Aetna, Kaiser and Cygna also have major online efforts.

Angie’s List Adds First ‘National’ Vertical: Classic & Custom Cars

Following the success of eBay Motors with special classic and custom car restoration verticals, other sites have pitched their own tents to get a piece of the $2 billion annual business, including AutoTrader and The New York Times. Now comes Angie’s List.

Angie’s List, based in Indianapolis and boasting over one million members, actually has some street cred in the auto world by sponsoring the Indy 500. It says the classic/custom car restoration category is worth $2 billion a year. “Custom and classic car owners will go to the ends of the Earth to find the one person who can bring their baby back. We’re going to make that trip easier,” says company namesake Angie Hicks, in a press release.

What is especially unique about the new Angie’s List service is that it isn’t locally oriented. While the site has some national and regional categories, such as bathtub restoration, Classic and custom car restoration is Angie’s first full scale national vertical. It is also the company’s second standalone vertical, following Health, which launched in March and now has 200 categories.

“There are tons of forums, classified ads everywhere you look, and lots of talk in garages around the country about individual specialists and companies that focus on restoring vintage vehicles,” said Hicks. “We’re going to do what we do best and gather that great consumer experience at a site where anyone can easily find just the person they need for the specialty work they need done.”

HelpHive, a Referral Site, Seeks to Rope in SMBs with Free Video

Smelling blood at the presumed decline of Yellow Pages, a number of sites have launched that provide leads to local service SMBs. You got Angie’s List on the membership side. And ServiceMagic, Tree.com’s DoneRight, Sears’ ServiceLive and a number of regional companies (i.e. RedBeacon, Fixr, LocalPrice) using some type of leads model.

Now add HelpHive. Launched this summer in Seattle by four tech vets, HelpHive builds on licensed listings from iBegin to provide a “hand curated” directory of SMBs in 50 categories. Its business model is to charge SMBs an annual fee of $199 for a variety of “Pro” level services (introductory priced at $99) and five percent of the total job value. When leads don’t result in jobs, the service takes a $5 fee from the SMB.

It is interesting to note that the commission is half of ServiceLive’s 10 percent fee. Also in contrast to ServiceLive, all payments are done on an honor system. ServiceLive has a complex system – perhaps necessary — of collecting payments and distributing funds only after consumers are satisfied

HelpHive’s Pro service has a number of distinctive features, most notably one year of a basic, free TurnHere video, including a site visit by a videographer, and a 60 second clip. As with many other video offers, however, the video is not portable to other sites.

Citysearch had also provided introductory free video at one point. But those contracts were many times more expensive than what HelpHive is charging.

Co-Founder Karim Meghji says that the team considered the full range of business models currently offered in the space. At Real Networks, where two staff members worked, “we ran a subscription business,” he noted. “You’ve got problems with churn, lifetime value of customers, and customer acquisition costs. It will be a challenge for Angie’s List to sustain that.” Subscriptions also run counter to the company’s hopes of providing information “to the broadest base,” he says.

As for a leads based model akin to ServiceMagic, where SMBs are charged for leads whether they win the job or not, that doesn’t work either. “Consumers are seeking a service model, not an RFP-like model,” says Meghji .

The company launches its promotion this week with a $10 gift card to consumers that register to provide reviews. It is also appearing at a Seattle home show.

Angie’s List Crosses One Million ‘Member’ Threshold

Angie’s List, the Indianapolis-based premium services directory that charges members to access and participate in reviews of local service businesses, said it has crossed the one million member mark. The threshold has been reached after a major ad campaign on mass media outlets, the launch of many new markets, and continuing efforts with member referrals (which come with a big bag of M&Ms and entry into a sweepstakes).

The company had 650,000 members at this time last year. While the company does not disclose how many actual paid accounts it has, it has historically had an average of two members per paying household. It also had a number of free trials that it counted. Ultimately, it had 280,000 paid accounts. If the 43 percent ratio were to hold firm with one million members, the company would now have 430,000 paid accounts. But many of the variables, of course, have obviously changed.

Angie’s List, which also has advertising revenues, is currently preparing a separate revenue stream from its medical reviews, which represent 150 of Angie’s 425 categories.

Angie’s List Tightens Policies Towards SMB Credentialing

Angie’s List, which now has 750,000 premium paying embers, says it will begin verifying the credentials of local service companies. Those found to be out of compliance will have an opportunity to comply or face an outing from Angie’s List. The company will also begin lobbying state officials to strengthen state policies towards listing service credentials.

“Licensing laws vary greatly across the country and even among cities within the same state, which makes it hard for contractors to keep track of what’s required and what isn’t. Consumers don’t have a chance of figuring it out without help,” said co-founder Angie Hicks, in a release. “Angie’s List will be working to make it easier for them. But the key to really accomplishing a better system will fall to lawmakers.”

Most states issue licenses for at least some contractors, including plumbers, electricians, heating and cooling specialists, handymen, builders and remodelers. However, the licensing requirements can be befuddling.

“A current trade license won’t guarantee that your contractor will complete your job perfectly, but it will give you some insight into how your contractor handles his or her business,” Hicks said. “In communities where licensure is required, unlicensed contractors are breaking the law. If he or she breaks this one, what others will they break? If the contractor doesn’t know he or she needs a license to operate, what does that say about how on top of things he or she is?”

Fwix, a ‘Local Newswire,’ Goes Mobile for Easy Submissions

The opportunities for “citizen journalism” and “consumer nation” are there. Social and hyperlocal media sites like Yelp and Angie’s List have done more than OK. But mobile on-the-go apps are more than likely going to kick the roof off.

Citysearch has already seen this with its reviews. When people don’t have to wait to go home to submit something, they are many more times likely to submit a review, even with awkward thumb texting (Unless, of course, they are home.)

Now comes Fwix, a year-old news aggregator for 85 U.S. cities that sports “Real Time Local News” as its tagline. The site was founded by Darian Shirazi, a 22 year old that has already put in time at Facebook and eBay. According to PaidContent, the site has received some seed funding from BlueRun Ventures.

This week, Fwix rolls out an iPhone app that enables users to file news updates, photos and video. Fwix’s geo-filter leverages GPS to check for accuracy of locations and aggregate other postings from the location, as The New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller notes in her writeup. Indeed, the filter could make the site a better and more focused c-journalism site than Twitter, which has a lot of noise in the postings.

Will Fwix’s c-journalism be successful as a standalone app? Probably not, although Miller notes that the site can build up from 400,000 unique viewers that its news aggregation attracts every month. But if it starts to work with major media sites, along the lines of Everyblock, a hyperlocal data gathererer just acquired by MSNBC.com—or even build up a news consortia like an Associated Press – it could be on to something.