LookSmart Unveils Reporting Center

Paid search listings player LookSmart has taken the wraps off a new feature of its service called the “Reporting Center,” a password-protected section of its site where its advertisers can see the results of their marketing campaigns.

The Reporting Center, which was built using the assets of Primary Knowledge, which San Francisco-based LookSmart acquired in 2001, is aimed at addressing the concerns of advertisers, which, in these troubled economic times, are more than ever concerned about optimizing campaigns and measuring return on investment (ROI).

“As search targeted marketing begins to command a larger portion of marketing budgets, businesses need to monitor the spending of those dollars” said Robert Goldberg, senior vice president of sales, marketing and international operations for LookSmart. “The LookSmart Reporting Center will let marketers thoroughly understand the performance of their search marketing campaigns so they can evaluate them against the rest of their marketing mix.”

The Reporting Center is accessible through a Web-based interface, and it allows advertisers access to performance data on both graphical ads and text search listings on LookSmart. The data can be arranged by campaign, by product, or by URL, with performance metrics calculated over a variety of time periods.

The unveiling of the Reporting Center comes just a few weeks after the leader in the space, Overture Systems, released its latest self-service offering for advertisers. More sophisticated than the LookSmart system, Overture’s “DirecTraffic Center” lets advertisers manage their bids and listings, as well as check on their performance.

LookSmart says its new features were designed to attract and hold onto major advertisers, who have latched onto search engine marketing as a low-risk venture, given that they need pay only when prospects actually click on a link to their Web sites. That popularity has, in turn, spawned increasing interest by agencies, which are seeking easier ways of managing and measuring their clients’ search spending, which, for some large companies, involves the purchase of thousands of keywords.

Management features may prove to be a distinguishing factor in the industry, as players like Overture, LookSmart, Google, and FindWhat jockey for position. In recent months, the battle has mostly involved competing over distribution partners. Last week Ask Jeeves abandoned its relationship with Overture to sign a deal with Google — a development reminiscent of AOL’s similar choice of Google over Overture. Overture, though, chalked up Yahoo as a long-term partner, signing the popular portal player to a deal to distribute its listings.

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