Vertical Search Works (VSW) officially launched Friday its semantic search and advertising platform VS4Food, a search widget for publishers. Search on a food-related query and the search engine returns results from both the publisher's and other related Web sites. The platform organizes results into categories and serves up images along with the text, as well as image and text ads.
The site offers wine-pairing with food. Search on the keyword "chicken," for example, and the tool classifies the request in one of more than 80 categories, provides instructions on grilling and cooking, and suggests a wine. Results serve up from The Ardent Epicure, as well as other sites. The results serve up in a another Web page, so it never takes the person searching for information off the publisher's page, according to Alisha Randell, proprietor and head chef creating recipes on The Ardent Epicure.
Targeted search works better for publishers like The Ardent Epicure, Randell said. She didn't want ads popping up throughout the entire site -- the type that get "in your face," when a site visitor searches for a specific ingredient or recipe.
So, Randell, a former executive chef for a restaurant in Northern California, installed the VSW engine on The Ardent Epicure about three months ago to help people in more than 80 countries search for recipes and information on food. Searches also serve up a list of stores -- online and physical -- where people can purchase the ingredients.
Publishers installing the widget get a percentage of each ad impression and click through. Randell said the ads are always relevant to keyword search queries. "If I describe a recipe or training technique with a specific knife, but all the ads on the site promote ketchup, why would that interest the reader?" she said, explaining that the site gets several hundred food bloggers on the site at any given time.
Randell also takes photos of food for her own Web site, along with publications like Gourmet magazine.
VSW, born in February 2010 from the merger of Convera, a search technology developer, and Firstlight ERA, which develops ad sales technology, also pulls content such as recipes from The Ardent Epicure to serve up on other sites in the company's network of publishers.