Ziff Bows Vertical Search at E3

The Ziff Davis Game Group is expected later this week to unleash Gazerk, a vertical search engine geared toward video game-oriented content. The engine will search across ZD gaming properties and the sites of other gaming publishers.

“We felt there was an opportunity to create a vertical search engine for the gaming community because of the way the data is structured and content is organized for gamers,” said Ira Becker, SVP and GM of the 1UP Network within the Ziff Davis Gaming Group. “Our search engine allows them to look at a game from many different perspectives.”

Gazerk is built using technology from Kosmix, a search engine company founded by Amazon.com’s former GM, Venky Harinarayan. Kosmix has developed verticals on its own search engine for health, travel and politics.

“We wanted to use Kosmix in the way we saw them organize the health community,” said Becker. “These guys have been used to understanding search technology for quite a long time and we’re excited to have them build something like this for gamers.”

The gaming vertical allows gamers to “slice” search results into editorial categories like news, reviews, previous, cheats and videos. The editorial group at Ziff Davis worked with Kosmix to build out specifications to organize the search results. The engine will crawl sites operated by Ziff Davis, its competitors, fan sites and blogs across the Web for video game content.

At launch, Gazerk will use Google AdSense for sponsored links. While the publisher does not rule out display and other opportunities for advertisers, it will keep the search engine simple. Becker said the aim is to provide “a clean, well-lit place to find what you’re looking for in the game space.”

ZD properties including 1UP.com will display the Gazerk search box, but initially search results on ZD sites will be limited to each site’s content. “We’re very open to expanding the scope of that as we get some experience under our belt,” said Becker.

Promotion of Gazerk will take place on Ziff’s gaming group properties. Print ads will run in several of the publisher’s magazines including Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World and Official U.S. Playstation Magazine. Promotion on 1UP.com is expected to include viral efforts. “We’ll be using the power of the 1UP.com social network, empowering users to use the Gazerk search on their 1UP.com blogs,” said Becker. “It’s so uniquely tuned to this audience.”

The search engine is considered a standalone product rather than an extension of existing gaming group properties. While Becker declined to comment on the revenue potential of the new site, he did say, “We’re building what we hope to be the best search site for the gaming community, if we do our job, they will gladly use it and we should be able to make a nice business out of that. It’s up to us to present the game space with something unique and different, and if we do that, it will be successful.”

In April, Ziff Davis launched video-rich site, GameVideos.com. This week it said made a deal with ESPN.com to run a video game channel, and is expected to launch the beta site MyCheats.com in the next few weeks.

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