At first blush it's another city guide-type site that prompts the question: How do these guys think they're going to compete with Google, Yahoo!, Citysearch and the IYP publishers?
But in discussing it with Jones, it's clear there's a lot going on below the surface.
Discover Our Town is selling/licensing its local data to both Google and Yahoo!, which appears in local and travel results, respectively.They're also working with companies like Sabre and Marriott (powering concierge kiosks in local hotels). That's one of four revenue streams for the company. Another, of course, is selling activated links directly to local businesses (for $175 per year).
Their core business is the hospitality industry. But there are 130,000 local listings in the company's database, covering 2,000 U.S. cities.
The company is developing a local blogging strategy to get key local advertisers to provide additional content to enrich the directory (generally similar to what BackFence is attempting).
"We get three million hits a month from search engines," says Jones.
This is based largely on Discover Our Town doing optimization for the various categories and geographies it covers. And in certain categories, they show up on the front page of Google results (scroll).
Jones says that while "every one of them" is a local newspaper advertiser, he and his team are still engaged in a fairly labor-intensive education process about the value of Internet marketing to most of the local businesses he services.
"In two years, this will be another conversation," says Jones. "But right now, I'm walking in mud."
More on Discover Our Town in an upcoming Local Media Journal.