News.com writes about the newest idea from Idealab’s Bill Gross:
Called Insider Pages, the Web site lets people sign up to connect with friends and mine their recommendations for local shops and services. The free product, still in experimental form for Los Angeles residents only, puts a new spin on social-networking services like Friendster by infusing it with the local insider feel of Craigslist.
Insider Pages is entering a market rife with promise, at least as investors and big-league Internet companies see it. In the last year, Yahoo, Google and InterActiveCorp’s Citysearch.com have invested heavily in improving local-search services and mapping in order to lure new visitors and to begin to attract regional advertisers online. The prize could be big; small and midsize businesses spend about $22 billion on local advertising annually, according to The Kelsey Group.
Insider Pages could also bring a more focused business model to online social networking, in which people sign up to meet new friends or date. Although services such as Friendster and Google’s Orkut have been popular, investors and analysts wonder if they can keep people’s interest and prove to be a viable businesses. Insider Pages plans to make social networking valuable by helping consumers find trusted advice on services. That, in turn, will be valuable to advertisers, MacFarlane says.
“The most important driver for people when selecting local business providers is personal recommendations,” said MacFarlane, who has worked at Idealab for two and half years and spun off Insider Pages into a new company. “It’s the way the real world works.”
He added: “We’re aggressively going after local businesses to advertise online.”
Insider Pages will sell advertising space at the top of search pages, charging marketers only when people use their service, or with a “pay per lead” model.
Some good ideas in there for PIN-News…