I started my web career at a little local search engine called TrueLocal which was owned at the time by Geosign. Both are now, as far as I know defunct, though TrueLocal’s site is still seems functional.
About the time that I left TrueLocal, Yelp, Restaurantica and others were tearing up the local search scene with ratings and reviews. As the guy responsible for product development at TrueLocal, I was under considerable pressure from above to add similar recommendation features to the search engine.
I resisted because it just didn’t seem to me that ratings and reviews added any value at all to the local search experience. Random recommendations from “Joey37”, for example, didn’t mean a heckuva lot to me when I was trying to decide which restaurant to take the in-laws to for seafood.
The reason there is no value was that I have no idea who Joey37 is. Is he that guy that always finds something to complain about? Or is he the guy that always thinks the last lace he’s been is the “best place ever!”
So the development team at TrueLocal began exploring the possibilities of avoiding unqualified reviews like Joey37 but allowing ratings and reviews from people we knew. When my real friends rate and review things, I usually know exactly how much salt I’ll need to take with it. The problem was, ultimately, context – or a lack thereof. Unfortunately, we never had the chance at TrueLocal to follow through on our research.
Last week, however, Praized Media, founded by Sebastien Provencher, Harry Wakefield and Sylvain Carle, finally took the wraps off their local search platform that’s been brewing for over a year. Funded by Garage Ventures, the Praized team has been slaving away in Montreal developing a truly social local search platform.
The result? It pretty much rocks! I was lucky enough to be the very first publisher to launch an API implementation of their platform using their own WordPress plugin – and some custom bits. I’ve also been using their Praize’n’raze Facebook application for about a week.
The secret sauce of the Praized recommendation engine is that it is context-sensitive. The Praized ratings made at one site do not appear on other publisher’s Praized sites. While that sounds like it limits the usefulness of the platform, it’s actually genius. Praized explains it this way:
a Praized installation on a vegan blog will have completely different restaurant recommendations than on a meat-lovers’ blog because the two groups have fundamentally different tastes.
The Praized team has been getting lots of attention since unveiling the platform and they deserve it – it’s a brilliant blend of local search and social media.
Congrats! to Seb, Harry, Sylvain and the rest of the Praized team on a job well done!Pin It