AltaVista Changes Direction
From The Search Engine Report
March 3, 1998
Over the past year, search services such as Excite, Yahoo and Lycos have added free email, chat, discussion areas and other features designed to help capture their audiences. The moves were meant to turn the services into destinations, rather than web transit points.
Now AltaVista is heading in a similar direction. In February, AltaVista added free email to its service. It has also added business and name searching, as well as a browsable directory, in recent months.
In the coming months, expect to see AltaVista unveil its own version of topical or channel content called "zones." They will feature information ranging from entertainment to health.
The changes put AltaVista firmly on a new path that its competitors have been walking for some time.
AltaVista launched back in Dec. 1995 as a demonstration project, and it has mainly been used as a technology showcase for Digital since. However, it's been a showcase with incredible brand recognition.
AltaVista rivals Lycos in terms of traffic, and yet it spends nowhere near the amount that service or others spend on marketing. That sort of traffic helped AltaVista earn nearly $20 million in revenue last year, according to marketing director Kathy Greenler.
Furthermore, AltaVista broke even with those earnings, officials say. That would put it just behind Lycos and well ahead of Excite and Infoseek, in terms of overall profitability.
It seemed that AltaVista would continue as a brand-building exercise for the AltaVista Internet Software division, which originally supposed to be spun-off into its own company last year. Digital then nixed those plans. In the wake of changes, it was decided to take AltaVista away from its search-centric roots.
"We decided not to stay a technology showcase but to instead compete as a media site," Greenler said.
AltaVista didn't necessarily have to go this way. It licenses out its results to numerous services, and it could have continued with simple banner sales. But its competitors see big money in expanding their content and incorporating commerce partnerships into it. AltaVista plans to follow suit, in order to better leverage the traffic it receives.
Meanwhile, for those still lacking a free email account, AltaVista joins Yahoo, Excite and Lycos in offering one. It has a partnership with iName, which also powers the free email offered by Lycos. Names are of the format [email protected]
AltaVista to 'Zone' out
PC Week, Feb. 24, 1998
Some details on revenues and future plans.
AltaVista Picks A Strategy
Red Herring, Feb. 19, 1998
Excellent article on where AltaVista has come from and where it is heading strategically against its competitors.
AltaVista unveils free email
News.com, Feb. 10, 1998
Free email: the next Catch-22?
PC Week, Feb. 10, 1998
Quotes on why adding new free services like email might bring support woes.
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