Last week Charlene Li and I talked with Josh Walker— a Forrester alum and all around smart guy — about his new company CityVoter.  Here’s what CityVoter does and why it matters to media outlets, local businesses and national advertisers:

CityVoter partners with large media companies (typically a local media affiliate, like CBS4 Boston – CityVoter’s charter partner) to run local “best of” business competitions online.  CityVoter creates unique, branded pages for all the business featured in each “voting” category and pre-populates businesses in each “voting” category.  Consumers can nominate others as they see fit. Check out Boston’s A-list to see CityVoter at work.

CityVoter’s media partner sells advertising across the branded pages to local or national marketers. And CV has plans to sell additional promotional functionality to local businesses interested in presenting coupons or additional information about their business to interested voters.

I find CV’s offering compelling for two primary reasons:

*It provides advertisers access to local shoppers. The local market has long evaded national portals and local publishers.  Current local offerings from national portals hinge mostly on pay-per-call ads and some new mobile mapping services. CityVoter’s “best of” competitions delivers engaged online customers – by region — sorted roughly by category interest, and perhaps eventually even profiled using anonymized registration data.  And, CV provides a way for local businesses to promote themselves affordably online – either through their branded category pages, or buy purchasing ads on other pages featured in the “best of” competition.

*It gives television networks and their affiliates a way to (finally) extend their television advertising relationships online.  With television advertising effectiveness on the decline, and consumer television watching behavior shifting to a more on-demand model, advertisers and TV networks need a new way to do business with each other.  David Cole, CBS Director of Corporate Development for New England and the champion for CityVoter across CBS, says CityVoter has given his sales team a way to sell bundled TV/online deals to advertisers.  He says the A-list competition has: 1) Brought his site more traffic — boosting CPMs for their traditional online media sales; 2) Extended the number of pages for through all of the branded business pages, which increases his site’s visibility in search results; and 3) Provided more ways for advertisers to do business with them – both through more online inventory or by tying available online ads to television spots.

What’s next for CityVoter?  Well, it’s busy securing relationships with media partners in other major US geographies.

What’s next for local advertisers?  I think the CityVoter model finally replaces ye old Yellow Pages.

What’s next for television affiliates?  Follow CBS4’s lead and see if CityVoter can reinvigorate your slumping TV ad sales.

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