IAC Splits Up About.com To Compete For Ad Dollars, Launches Verywell

IAC Publishing is splitting up its flagship brand About.com in an effort to build topic-specific verticals from its more popular sections.

According to CNBC, the company hopes this will help About.com compete with smaller, niche sites for digital advertising dollars.

"We've always had great content, but our model is no longer a good model," About.com CEO Neil Vogel told CNBC. "Our model was created at a time where scale was what mattered in the U.S. What's happened over time is the Internet has involved. The things people trust are verticals."

“No one wants advice on their 401(k) from the same people that give advice on how to bake a pie,” Vogel told TechCrunch.

Last week, IAC announced the launch of its first vertical, Verywell, a site that uses existing health content on About.com packaged in an updated way that makes it easier to read and navigate.



Much like About.com, a panel of board-certified physicians reviews all of the articles.

Vogel told Re/code the idea is to keep About.com’s strategy in place, which means producing a lot of content designed to do well in Google searches, made at low cost via a distributed workforce. But now, About.com hopes to introduce new brands and designs that will resonate with younger Web and social media users, as well as advertisers.

Verywell enters the market as one of the largest ad-supported health destinations, generating more than 50,000 pieces of content. Verywell intends to cover a wide range of health and wellness topics, from fitness, nutrition, health insurance and pregnancy to information on medical conditions, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

In December 2015, IAC spun off its publishing arm into a new division called IAC Publishing. The group consists of About.com, Dictionary.com, Investopedia and The Daily Beast.

"What's happening with About reflects our broader strategy," IAC Publishing CEO Doug Leeds told CNBC. "The future of publishing is strong brands in vertical categories, where the consumer and advertiser value propositions are tightly aligned. For us, this means building endemic brands that people trust, while taking advantage of our scale to accelerate our overall business in ways other digital publishers can't."

As a narrow-focused vertical, Verywell may be better suited to finding advertisers for health-related content.

"Vertical brands matter to advertisers because they can reach like-minded people passionate about that same subject. This is the perfect environment for native forms of advertising, like content marketing, to flourish," Leeds added.

Vogel told CNBC if Verywell succeeds, there are plans to create separate sites for home, travel, tech and personal finance content. The other categories will remain on About.com

"We think users are going to like this [vertical model] more," Vogel said. "We definitely think advertisers are going to like it much more."
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