Health Vertical: License and Be Found

MindsiteAnother health vertical, Mindsite, was quietly reported in the Seattle PI venture blog yesterday. Founder David Eraker explained that “information is often ridiculously watered down, locked up behind expensive subscriptions, editorially corrupted, biased, or not credible.”

Mindsite focuses on mental health, and has licensed American Psychiatric Association information that was previously unavailable on the open web. There’s a social dimension planned here as well, where people share treatments and what’s worked for them. This mental health vertical could become another useful, ad-based destination.

In this case, I think the odds are stacked against making this site a home run because it follows the “license and be found” model. You need traffic, stat. How will anyone find Mindsite among other specialized health sites, portals and search engines?

The competition here is fierce and very well optimized. First, there are the largest health portals like WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and Revolution Health. In addition, there are health resources at places like iVillage, and even Yahoo. Any of them could make this same licensing deal (assuming it’s not exclusive), and knock out sites like Mindsite.

Then there are many health search engines to consider. Remember a year-plus ago when Healthline, Kosmix, Healia and Medstory were all the rage? All these search engines refine sources and aim to produce credible results. They essentially compete with these smaller verticals, at least for traffic.

Getting noticed is hard work. Look at the challenges faced by relatively deep-pocketed Revolution Health which, as a newcomer, isn’t optimized well yet. They compensate by making seemingly large keyword buys to drive visitor traffic. While Mindsite is focused on mental health, that’s a broad subject area too — and hardly a shoo-in for optimization.

Mindsite is a textbook example of where verticals sit today, with search, content and social attributes as basic requirements for launch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like a game changer.

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