LookSmart launched five vertical search content destinations today. The sites are targeted to consumer profiles the company identified as the most active on its FindArticles.com property.
Three of the new sites are homework-oriented: www.teenja.com for teens; www.gradewinner.com for "tweens;" and www.24hourscholar.com for college students. The other two sites are aimed at parents: a general www.parentsurf.com, and the mom-oriented www.gobelle.com. All return results either from FindArticles.com or from the Web, with the former set as the default.
While Google AdSense ads are currently served on results, LookSmart is developing its own ad product for the properties. "That's the plan," Debby Richman, LookSmart's SVP of consumer products, told ClickZ News. "You'll see that we don't have many ad units at all. We're going to transplant ad units. We're looking into every kind of ad unit."
Richman says the new properties represent, "The top five verticals based on the audiences we felt were out there on the Web. Certainly we are aiming to capture traffic." She hinted the company will launch additional vertically-targeted sites in the near future. "Certainly we're planning to expand our search network. We're now set up in the verticals to be able to utilize that exposure for advertisers. The advantage we have on these verticals is having the specific information [users] are searching against," she stated.
LookSmart plans to drive traffic to the new sites via links on its other properties, including FindWhat, NetNanny and Furl.
LookSmart has been through turbulent times since it lost a critical distribution deal with MSN in October 2003. It experienced through a management shakeup earlier this year, and delivered disappointing Q4, 2004 earnings.
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Rebecca was previously VP, U.S. operations of Econsultancy, an independent source of advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Earlier, she held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services companies, including Siegel & Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies, including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rebecca spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Rebecca also taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Rebecca, author of "The Truth About Search Engine Optimization," was ClickZ's editor-in-chief for over seven years.
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