Ask.com has become the latest search engine to improve its local search service. It has revamped and renamed its offering in one of the most popular search segments for both advertisers and the public at large.
Ask.com plans to unveil the service, called AskCity, today, and said it will contain the largest integration of parent company IAC (InterActive Corp) online services to date.
AskCity comprises IAC services such as CitySearch, Ticketmaster and ServiceMagic, among others, to deliver listings and reviews of local businesses, along with maps and driving directions.
It will also let users perform actions from within its interface, including making a restaurant reservation, buying tickets to movies and other events and making an appointment with a contractor.
Ask.com doesn't have plans to monetise AskCity at this point, according to a company official, but estimates for the advertising potential of local search services are very optimistic.
Advertising revenue in local search is expected to grow from $3.4bn (£1.7bn) in 2005 to $13bn (£6.6bn) in 2010, according to The Kelsey Group.
Local search has proved attractive for users as well, because the services significantly extend the concept of the traditional yellow-pages phone directory by providing maps, driving directions, reviews and the like.