FindWhat Adds New Division, New Tool

  |  January 5, 2004   |  Comments

UPDATE: The second-tier paid search player beefs up its offerings to compete with the big boys.

Second-tier paid search provider FindWhat.com has added a new division and a new keyword bidding feature to its repertoire.

Monday, FindWhat completed its acquisition of Miva Corporation, a supplier of e-commerce software and services to small and medium-sized businesses. The approximately $8 million acquisition helps FindWhat tighten its focus on these businesses.

The tens of thousands of advertisers on the FindWhat network will have access to the e-commerce shopping software, related plug-ins, modules and hosting services available through Miva Merchant and its partners. In exchange, Miva merchants will be able to promote their Web sites through the FindWhat network.

The acquisition, first announced in September, was hailed by Craig Pisaris-Henderson, FindWhat's chairman and CEO, as "a valuable addition" to FindWhat's service offerings, helping small to medium enterprises to promote their online businesses.

On the technology front, FindWhat's new keyword bidding feature is a tool aimed at helping it catch up with major players Google and Overture.

IntelliMap, the new feature, is FindWhat's addition to the flurry of new tools introduced by other paid search providers in the last few months. In November, Overture launched Marketing Console, which measures conversion rates from keyword campaigns. In December, Kanoodle.com unveiled an innovative technology that sets search terms to become active or inactive based on time of day, month or year.

IntelliMap works by grouping together searches that FindWhat's technology determines are essentially the same, ignoring irrelevant punctuation and "connector-type words." For example, if an advertiser chose "dog and cat grooming" as a keyword, those listings would also show up on searches for "dog & cat grooming" and "cat and dog grooming." However, it wouldn't show up if someone searched just for "cat grooming." The idea is to keep the meaning of the search intact, but omit irrelevant details like punctuation and word order.

Google and Overture, the top two paid search providers with about 6 to 8 billion searches a month, have had functions similar to IntelliMap for some time, company spokespeople confirmed.

Though the Miva acquisition has come to fruition, a spokeswoman had nothing new to say about the company's rocky engagement with fellow search player Espotting. The proposed $163 million cash and stock deal seemed to be off in September, but the merger date was extended in late December.

FindWhat, with about 1.5 billion searches per month, has wider distribution than the other second tier players such as Kanoodle.com and Mamma.com.

"The new tool is useful for advertisers and it is important for them to catch up with what Google and Overture have been doing," Elliott maintained. "Going through the process of every variation on a search is time-consuming. This saves time and effort."

Now that the company has introduced this technology, "I'd love to see them get involved in graphical paid listings," Elliott commented. Because this is a technology Google and Overture haven't developed, it would be an opportunity for FindWhat or any other second tier player in the arena to stand out, Elliott pointed out.

"Kanoodle did well by introducing their day part feature," Elliott said of the company's new tool introduced in December. "When the smaller players develop new technologies, it sets them apart."

FindWhat developed IntelliMap, which comes as part of its services with no extra charge, in response to comments advertisers made about to the company.

"The whole point of it was based on advertiser feedback. We asked them what they would like us to do to simplify the procedures," reported FindWhat's Karen Yagnesak, marketing director for FindWhat.

"One of the inherent parts of our industry is its complexity," Yagnesak noted. "The more we can do to make things simpler for advertisers, the more apt they are to advertise with us."

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