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IAC's Citysearch Buys Insider Pages

IAC property Citysearch today announced it has acquired Insider Pages, a reviews-based local search company located in Redwood City, Calif. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Insider Pages has more than 600,000 merchant reviews on local businesses in 30 markets across the U.S., according to Citysearch. The company said in a statement the purchase will increase its own stockpile of user reviews to over a million, with local market directory information across more than 500 business categories.

IAC's Citysearch isn't the only local search property to make noise about its user-review features.

When Yahoo introduced Yahoo Answers last year, a vice president of marketing for Yahoo said it was a way for people to find user reviews. In 2005, Amazon.com even went so far as to patent the technology behind consumer reviews.

Why is there such an emphasis on the user point of view?

"Collectively, a large enough set of user reviews can guide decisions most effectively. That, compounded with our qualified leads to merchants, builds a business valuable to users and local businesses," Dinesh Moorjani, vice president of strategy and corporate development at Citysearch, told internetnews.com.

The idea is that people trust user reviews when making decisions about what they want to buy for themselves. Advertisers love to be around such trust. So couple search marketing with user reviews and you've created a potent revenue model.

And that's why JupiterResearch Analyst Sapna Satagopan commends the acquisition.

"With applications such as Evite, [IAC] certainly has the potential to develop a strong user base for local search," Satagopan told internetnews.com. "Including access to already-created user reviews is a step that will help enable to accelerate the integration of Ask City's elements."

IAC said that when the acquisition is complete, Insider Pages will retain its distinct brand identity and positioning in the market, though its employees will move to Citysearch's San Francisco office.