Why Publishers are Using Vertical Search Engines

Publishers see vertical search as opportunity to “reclaim the online community from Google”

Depending on what area of technology you are coming from, vertical search engines can be described different ways. If you’re coming from the technology side, they describe it as a way to search the space that Google does not get to. It also does not require or need the “natural language” technology.

On the other hand, we as publishers see search as “the long tail of business publishing”. According to ReadWriteWeb.com, “Traditional B2B publishers have two big advantages. First, their long established brand (and the trust that it represents) and second, decades of domain expertise. They also have two big hurdles. The first is that they have traditionally been weak on technology; that is relatively easy to fix by partnering with technology vendors. The second hurdle is that Vertical Search is one of many lines of business (and it is currently a small % of their total revenues) and their core lines of business are under threat; Vertical Search therefore does not usually get the senior management attention and investment capital that is needed to win.”

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From Convera’s Vertical Search Survey:

  • CPM will be fastest-growing revenue stream for publishers in 2008.
  • Online revenue set to increase while print income flattens or decreases.
  • Content owners must ensure visibility within fragmenting digital landscape by embracing RSS, widgets and toolbars.
  • Publishers see vertical search as opportunity to “reclaim the online community from Google”.
  • The fastest-growing revenue streams for publishers in 2008 will be internet display advertising and online sponsorship.
  • Some 72% of publishers are expecting an increase in income from CPM advertising next year and 67% are predicting a rise in digital sponsorship.
  • Just under two thirds (64%) are expecting a rise in paid search (PPC) revenue.

The Vertical Search User

The problem with Google, is that as it becomes more advanced and more broad, so does its search results. Users who are looking for information on a specialized topic are getting increasingly frustrated because the information is now much harder to find.

This is especially true in B2B where some terms take on a meaning of their own in the industry. Someone looking through Google for these niche terms will likely be offered a series of irrelevant results. This is why publishing companies are taking the next step to develop niche search sites to provide users with the most relevant results.

LookSmart, an online media and technology company that has launched more than 180 vertical search sites, contends that Web users will increasingly use the Internet the way they do cable television, opting for specialized channels that speak directly to their concerns. This company says vertical search engines will chip away at Google’s and Yahoo’s audiences the same way cable TV channels such as TLC and the National Geographic Channel have eaten into network audiences [source].

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