Lycos is expected Wednesday to launch a niche search product -- a dating search engine -- with a paid inclusion model, in which dating sites pay per-click, per-acquisition or via another model when they get referrals.
The site, which simultaneously searches personals ads from multiple online dating sites, is the first of what could be many niche search products from Lycos.
Lycos Dating Search users can search and view profiles and photos for free on sites like iMatchup.com, LoveAccess, Tickle.com, True.com, and Lycos-owned Matchmaker.com. Users can view unlimited profiles on these sites without registering for sites. Only active or recent profiles, and profiles with photos, are displayed.
"There's a lot of shopping around with dating sites, both before and after choosing a site to join," said Curt Degenhart, senior product manager for Lycos Dating Search. "Now users can browse and search profiles with no registration requirements."
Lycos will display ads on the search results pages, but the bulk of revenues will come from revenue-sharing agreements with providers.
Lycos will promote the offering throughout its network, which includes the Lycos, Hotbot, Wired, Tripod, Angelfire and Quote.com sites, as well as Lycos Mail, Gamesville and GetRelevant. It also plans a paid search campaign on Google and Overture, and display ads on non-Lycos sites.
Search results are presented by relevance according to specific search criteria including newness or popularity of a profile. Users can search by criteria like favorite books, musicians, movies, hobbies, or sports, providing more targeted matches. Lycos also offers "Favorite Profiles" and "Saved Search" features, allowing users to keep track of their top choices and store search criteria across multiple dating sites.
The move is the beginning of what Adam Soroca, general manager of search services, calls a "year of revitalizing search at Lycos." The company re-launched a search-centric home page at the end of January, bringing back the iconic Lycos the dog logo and the "Go get it" slogan.
"There's a renewed focus on search here at Lycos, and Dating Search is just one step in that direction," Soroca said. "People still know Lycos as a search engine, but we've been unable to clearly articulate why a searcher would come to Lycos. Our mission this year is to answer that question."
Soroca would not elaborate on Lycos' plans for future search offerings, but promised that there would be several new features launched by the company this year, with some big news expected by the end of the year. He did rule out direct competition with search leaders Google, Yahoo and MSN.
In February 2004, corporate parent Terra Lycos announced that Lycos would shed its previous portal strategy to become a social network, a "hub for personal connections" with hopes of converting users into paid subscribers. Since it was acquired by Korean Internet giant Daum Communications in August 2004, the company has refocused on search.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
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