The content comes from Furl, Web crawling and LookSmart's Find Articles database. The company is hoping the vertical strategy will draw consumers — initially from general Web search and then directly to the site — and bring advertisers looking for higher-quality, more targeted ad inventory.
The analogy LookSmart uses is to cable TV: "Like Cable was to television, vertical search is delivering to consumers relevant and essential content versus an exhaustive return on information."
The architecture of the vertical sites and subsidiary content pages is based on a concept of "find," "save" and "share," leveraging the Furl community and functionality (it's also a backdoor way to introduce Furl to users).
Certainly, it creates more targeted ad opportunities, but will it raise the prominence of the LookSmart brand in the minds of consumers? That's unclear. When LookSmart had five verticals several months ago, I thought that was fairly unimpressive. Something on this scale is a different story. (It's not unlike About.com but with a twist.)
CEO David Hills is being very thoughtful about strategy, given the position the company is in, and has mapped out a diversified plan that includes a mix of technology licensing and advertising products.
As he said to me the other day, "At least now the company has a shot." I agree.
Here's the earnings release with the news.