In separate announcements on Tuesday, MySpace, the social network, and OpenTable, the reservations site, said they would soon begin allowing their users to rate and review restaurants and share those recommendations with friends.
First up: MySpace, a division of News Corporation, is partnering with CitySearch, a division of IAC, to create pages on MySpace for small businesses like restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
When users visit the new service, called MySpace Local, and review the establishments, their activity will also appear on the MySpace pages of their friends. MySpace is introducing separate guide pages for all the major cities in the United States.
Plenty of other sites already allow you to rate businesses ? Yelp, for one. Both Yelp and CitySearch also allow reviews to flow directly into Facebook through a tool called Facebook Connect.
But Jeff Berman, MySpace?s president, claims that this kind of online activity is more relevant in a tightly integrated social context: ?When you actually know the reviewer, or can visit their MySpace page to see if she is the kind of user whose judgment you can trust, it matters a whole bunch more,? he said.
(Question: do the playful and often saucy photos of MySpace users engender trust?)
In a conference call this morning with journalists, MySpace?s chief executive, Chris DeWolfe, was sure to reference all of the new revenue possibilities: small businesses will be able to place self-serve ads on their own MySpace Local pages, and large brand advertisers will now have safe terrain on which to target MySpace?s 125 million members.
The new service will open to users in mid-April, and over time MySpace plans to add pages for professional and personal services (plumbers, doctors) and other local businesses. MySpace says Coors and Outback Steakhouse are the inaugural sponsors for MySpace Local.
Meanwhile, the reservations site OpenTable said that starting Tuesday night it would expand a ratings and reviews feature across its site, after testing it in San Francisco and Boston over the last few months.
Unlike MySpace and other review sites, OpenTable, which books reservations for more than 10,000 restaurants around the world, actually knows when people have dined at a restaurant and automatically solicits reviews with an e-mail. And next week, it too will add Facebook Connect, allowing its users to share their reservations and reviews with friends.
?I think we are uniquely positioned to do a reviews product in a way that is both credible and responsible,? said Scott Jampol, senior director of consumer marketing at OpenTable.
OpenTable?s new offering is more limited than MySpace?s, of course, but the two pieces of news create an interesting juxtaposition. In your opinion, readers: where would you rather rate a restaurant?