Internet company AOL Inc., pinning much of its resurrection hopes on local Web content, is bringing out of retirement a city guide that lets people vote each year for their favorite local businesses.
Called City's Best, the guide is re-launching in 25 major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles. From now until Nov. 30, visitors are invited to vote for businesses to win titles such as best pizza, movie theater or venue for live music, from a list of businesses already whittled down by City's Best editors and writers.
City's Best will also be giving out stickers to businesses that include special bar codes called QR codes. When placed in a window, spotters could scan the code with a cell phone to get information about the business or vote on it.
AOL is in the midst of a turnaround effort as it seeks to find growth in online ad sales to make up for declines in its legacy dial-up Internet business. Local content is one area that AOL is counting on to attract ads.
AOL originally launched City's Best in 1999, but discontinued it in 2008, when AOL was still part of Time Warner Inc. The two companies, both based in New York, parted ways in late 2009.
AOL is bringing City's Best back because it fits with the company's overall strategy of focusing on local content, said Jon Brod, who runs AOL's startup acquisition and investment unit, AOL Ventures, and its local and mapping products.
AOL's other local properties include Patch, which runs more than 250 community news websites, and Going, which operates online city guides.