This column will take a look at recent innovation on the vendor side of search marketing. Vertical search is an area in considerable ferment. Much VC funding has flowed to the area, under the assumption that the big search players are so broad that there is opportunity for sites devoted to specific niches. A JupiterResearch study identifies four primary vertical categories that would be likely to account for the majority of spend: retail, financial services, travel and media and entertainment. But many other niches are getting funding.
Here are some recent developments in vertical search:
There are already many competitors in this vertical, including SideStep, Mobissimo, and FareChase. Kayak, which has been around for a while, is rolling the dice with a $10 million TV ad campaign, including a user-generated TV ad promotion. Newcomer Farecast has sophisticated technology that looks at pricing, scheduling and availability (among 115 indicators) to predict prices on specific flights and thereby give travelers an idea of when to book in order to get the best price. Farecast predicts whether fares will rise or fall over the next seven days. It also provides a fare history chart so users can see fluctuations and the average lowest price over the last 45-90 days. The company claims to have made over 90 billion airfare observations to build the predictions. Like other vertical travel search sites, Farecast displays links to book directly at airline Web sites. Farecast launched with flights departing only from Boston and Seattle, but will roll out other departure cities over the course of the year.
Another new player in the travel vertical is FareCompare, which aims to empower consumers with flight pricing data but does not yet offer flight availability information. But it will tell you what month (or even what week within a month) would have the best price to specific destinations, based upon historical patterns.
SimplyHired, which raised $13.5 million in April from MySpace's parent company, Fox Interactive Media, is powering the newly launched MySpace Jobs. The service is oriented to the My Space demographic and lists summer jobs like lifeguards and camp counselors, as well as internships and retail positions at Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch.
Vast already offers vertical search of jobs, personals and cars.
It has just added vacation rentals search, covering more than 600,000 vacation properties from over 12,000 sites. It has robust filtering capabilities, including bedrooms, bathrooms, rate, activities, and amenities. Vast claims a superior ability to uncover rentals like remote mountain cabins not likely to appear on other vacation rental sites. You can even click the "Pets OK" link to see only pet-friendly rentals.