InfoSpace Aims for “Edgy”

InfoSpace has spent the better part of a year improving its search engines — now it’s spreading the word.

“We just started a campaign on and around five college campuses,” Leslie Grandy, vice president of product management told internetnews.com. “We’re looking to leverage the edginess of the brand name.”

The initiative highlights the Bellevue, Wash., company’s Dogpile site and is aimed at the college crowd and recent graduates, up to about 35 years old.

It includes signs on buses and taxis, as well as ads in alternative newspapers featuring slogans such as “Search Doggie-Style.”

“This is a highly influential group and we tend to skew a little older,” said Brian McManus, InfoSpace’s executive vice president of search and directory services.

The effort will take place initially at University of Washington, University of Georgia, Arizona State, Florida State and Ohio State (note: some of these schools have canine mascots).

InfoSpace still believes in online ads, and likes how results can be easily measured, but with this offline campaign, it’s trying something different, Grandy said. The company won’t say how much the effort costs. It’s expected to last several months.

In addition to Dogpile, InfoSpace owns and operates a MetaCrawler and Excite sites and the InfoSpace.com directory site.

The move to raise the profile of the new-and-improved Dogpile comes as the company rallies around its search and directory and mobile businesses.

Just yesterday, InfoSpace said it would buy Moviso from Vivendi Universal Net for $25 million in cash, adding mobile content such as ringtones, video, graphics and games to its offerings.

InfoSpace CEO, Jim Voelker (formerly of XO Communications), has also said the company is shopping its e-payments unit. The division is growing, but doesn’t figure to be an industry leader given the competition in the financial services sector.

McManus also said InfoSpace wouldn’t be shy about spending some of the $300 million cash it has sitting in the bank for acquisitions that could improve its technology or reach.

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