CitySearch President and CEO Briggs Ferguson says, in an interview with Greg Sterling, that the site now has “41,000 advertisers.” That means a gain of 11,000 since the beginning of 2005, when the company had about 30,000 advertisers.
It is possible that the number is even less. Ferguson sometimes says “advertisers” when he actually means “advertising locations.” If there are three locations to every advertiser (when franchises such as Marriott are thrown in), there would be fewer than 15,000 accounts nationwide, in toto.
Whatever the actual count, it’s been a slow progression for the IAC company – even as its user traffic has steadily grown. In 2003, CitySearch bravely went from annual, Yellow Pages-like contracts to month-to-month, pay-per-click deals. It was a good differentiator, and the move dramatically boosted the number of companies willing to try CitySearch. But it also brought up the churn ratio. Recently, churn was running 5-7 percent per month, or up to 84 percent per year. That means they need to sign up a new restaurant or hair salon every 14 months just to keep pace, since one has also quit. There are a lot of former CitySearch advertisers out there.