SOURCE: MerchantCircle

MerchantCircle

May 12, 2011 14:26 ET

MerchantCircle Now Featuring Free "Request a Quote" Functionality for Local Consumers

New Feature Enabled Across the MerchantCircle Network Helps Consumers Searching for Products and Services Connect With Qualified Providers in Their Local Area

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - May 12, 2011) - MerchantCircle, the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, today announced that it is now delivering qualified consumer leads to its more than 1.6 million local merchant members. The company today launched a new feature across the MerchantCircle network that allows consumers searching for products and services online to immediately connect with qualified providers in their local area for free.

Consumers who visit the MerchantCircle network will be able to request quotes from local merchants based upon category and locale. For example, consumers searching for "tree trimming services" in their local area will be presented with the option to "request a quote" And inquiries will be routed to the relevant subset of MerchantCircle's 1.6 million local business members. MerchantCircle will ask for more information from the consumer as needed, then will route the request to relevant MerchantCircle merchants. The MerchantCircle system automatically creates a profile for each consumer that allows them to track which vendors have received their request, manage their responses and even go back and rate the vendors they've worked with. In addition to MerchantCircle Answers, where consumers can go to post questions and find expert advice from local business owners, this newest feature further extends the value of the MerchantCircle platform to a growing consumer audience.

On the merchant side, merchants will receive new customer leads directly to their inbox, where they can immediately engage with the prospect or even pass along the lead to other merchants in their network. Each lead is pre-qualified through the MerchantCircle system to help prevent junk and spam and to ensure quality. Since the feature launch last week, over 180,000 consumers have selected this option.

MerchantCircle also announced today that it is has signed a distribution deal with CityGrid Media, a leading online local media company. CityGrid Media operates CityGrid® the largest content and ad network for local that reaches more than 140M unique users through local properties such as Citysearch, Insider Pages and UrbanSpoon. As part of the agreement, MerchantCircle will provide CityGrid Media with a feed of advertisers for distribution on the CityGrid network; each advertiser profile will include a clickable button that launches a lead submission form.

"This new program represents a significant milestone for MerchantCircle's business. We've already established ourselves as a leading provider of high-quality traffic to local merchants; now, MerchantCircle will also be providing merchants with qualified leads and helping them connect directly with new customers," said Darren Waddell, Vice President of Product and Marketing at MerchantCircle. "We also see this as a continuation of our ongoing push to boost the value we're bringing to local consumers. We look forward to working with consumers, our local merchants and our distribution partners to make this program a success."

About MerchantCircle

Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, combining social networking features with a variety of free marketing tools that enable merchants to maximize their online visibility. Over 1.6 million merchants use the tools offered on MerchantCircle to create conversations with customers and connect with fellow local merchants. Local consumers can find more than 20 million business listings through http://www.merchantcircle.com or major search engines in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. In addition to its free services, MerchantCircle offers a portfolio of premium online advertising solutions including search engine marketing and instant website development.

In 2010, MerchantCircle acquired TimeBridge and the popular Bloglines service to futher extend its network offerings. MerchantCircle is based in Mountain View, Calif., and funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Steamboat Ventures and IAC. Learn more at http://www.MerchantCircle.com.

About CityGrid Media

CityGrid Media is an online media company that connects web and mobile publishers with local advertising organizations by linking them through CityGrid®, its local content and advertising network. CityGrid Media also owns and operates leading local consumer properties including Citysearch, Insider Pages and Urbanspoon. CityGrid Media is an operating business of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI). For more information, visit www.citygridmedia.com

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