IAC Buys About.com To Strengthen Publishing Cred


Ask.com plans to step up branding efforts for the newly acquired About.com to squash any myths about it being a content farm.

"We're going to get tactical for the next couple of quarters," said Doug Leeds, Ask.com CEO, as the company informs consumers that About.com will strengthen its core publishing model. Most hired writers for the site cull content from professional experiences and knowledge.

The message will become one in many topics explored for a forthcoming online branding campaign that could move to television next year.

Ask.com ran several promotions this year to market its brand. The company ran a 15-second spot, "Mirror," in U.S. cinemas as a pre-trailer this year, but also spent time and money rebranding the Q&A site.  



Leeds said The New York Times Co. failed to invest in the consumer About.com brand. Now Barry Diller's IAC/InteractiveCorp $300 million cash deal to buy About.com gives Ask.com the necessary content to build out the question-and-answer site supported by content. The brands will remain separate, but will integrate some of the technology. Ask.com will also integrate the technology from its recent nRelate acquisition.

While putting together the deal, it became clear that the combination of traffic and content from Ask.com and About.com would create a bridge to support the more than 100 million monthly visitors.

About.com publishes 930 guides, with each writer vetted through a multi-step process. Less than 1% of those who apply to write for the network are accepted. Those who do stick around on average for 11 years. Writers get paid based on page views, encouraging engagement. The site has about 650 million page views monthly, according to Leeds.

The strategy will work similarly on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Both sites experience more than 100% year-on-year growth.

Google powers Ask.com search. Industry experts speculate About.com relies on on-site Google's search engine. Leeds said more than 80% of About.com's traffic comes from search engines. The site took a hit from Panda, but search engine optimization efforts have revived traffic to pre-Panda days.

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