MySpace started off as a hub for indie bands to connect with their fans. Now, with a new partnership with the IAC/InterActiveCorp-owned Citysearch, it's hoping to do the same for the likes of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Called "MySpace Local," the new section on the News Corp.-owned MySpace will be rooted in existing listings from Citysearch (restricted to major U.S. cities) that are souped up with social features like the ones that you might see on a band or celebrity's MySpace page (photos, videos, comments, and the like). It's launching with just "restaurants," "bars," and "nightlife" categories, but will eventually expand--and it'll only be available to a select number of users this week before rolling out to the rest of MySpace's U.S. users.
"We're using the tools of new media to make the discovery as social and therefore as relevant as possible," said Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing at MySpace, in a conference call on Tuesday. "The first thing you will see are ratings and reviews from your actual friends. When a reviewer is anonymous or unknown, it's hard to say whether you should care what they think."
Eventually, MySpace Local will highlight reviews from celebrities, "influencers," and power users with "street cred." There will also be new features like menus and possibly an online reservation tool.
This move will put MySpace in competition with fast-growing reviews site Yelp, which has been dealing with image and credibility issues recently but which has nevertheless been catching up to Citysearch in reach.
It'll also present more opportunities for local advertising. The social network has been courting small advertisers with a program called MyAds. But there will be big brand advertisers on MySpace Local, too, with Outback Steakhouse and Coors signing on for the launch.
Berman said that research showed about 50 percent of active Citysearch users have MySpace profiles that they check at least once a month. "There is healthy overlap, but there is also a healthy new audience to be reached," he said.
This post was expanded at 10:54 a.m. PDT.