Cox Search is getting ready to launch new city-specific versions of Kudzu.com, its hybrid Yellow Pages/Review site, in San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas this fall. It also says that its inaugural site in Atlanta, which launched in October 2005, now has over 2,000 paying clients and more than 40,000 reviews.
Nationally, the site competes in a crowded category that includes Insider Pages, Yelp, Judy’s Book and Backfence, not to mention “traditional” Internet Yellow Pages sites, City Guides, and various newspaper directory sites. Locally, it hopes to dominate.
“It’s not sexy stuff, but getting more useful every day,” said Kudzu GM Tom Bates, in an email exchange. “There really isn’t another place here to get this kind of stuff.” And “it is all self-provisioned.”
Plenty of New Features
Among the site’s recently-added features in Atlanta are a “virtual house” where users can click on parts of the house, room-by-room, to get appropriate directory listings. Clicking on a fish aquarium in the master bedroom, for instance, leads to listings for pet stores. Clicking on the rug leads to listings for maid services.
The site also enables direct comparison between merchants in specific categories, so that readers can check features and user ratings at a glance. Another new feature is a “talk back” feature for merchants that have been reviewed. All of it is compelling.
So far, most of the “talk back” appears to be positive, but sometimes, it…isn’t. One reviewer, for instance, gave Rk Heating & Air Conditioning a single star on Kudzu’s five-star system and urged readers to “be careful when dealing with this company. They will threaten lawsuits against you.” RK talk backed that the reviewer “does not have anything better to do than slamming people. We have contacted our attorney today and will be taking legal actions against her for slandering our business!” Maybe the drama will draw recreational readers in, a la Craig’s List.
New features that are coming up include video, deals and a ‘What to pay guide.’ It is “a survey we commissioned on pricing for key services in the market,” said Bates.
With Kudzu.com, Cox appears to be maintaining its tradition of making each service stand on its own, rather than depend on existing media channels. But the site has recently been integrated into AJC.com , the Web site of Cox’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where it should get good synergies. It will be interesting to see what kinds of similar synergies will be explored in San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix, each of which are Cox Cable TV markets (hence the addition of video?)