LookSmart Launches Vertical Consumer Search Sites

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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