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Go Bears, Search Looksmart

By - June 09, 2004

cal-title-fThey must have known I’m a Cal guy: Looksmart has done a deal with Berkeley for an “Affinity” search portal, along the lines of affinity credit cards, etc.You use their search engine, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Cal sports (they need the help!). Not a bad idea, but if anything says “commodity” it’s this kind of deal. In any case, the details are here, and here’s a summary from their PR folk:

Looksmart is pioneering “affinity search” with Cal, applying the same principles that business organizations such as the credit card company, MBNA, which has developed credit cards that will directly give back $$ to the specific group (such as the Sierra Club, etc.). By identifying groups of avid supporters (college alumni, fans, students, members of conservation organizations, etc) who will switch from Google or Yahoo to search on a site that produces revenue for the organization or a cause they’re passionate about, the “affinity program” brings $$ back to the group. As an example, MBNA has been able to recruit 5,000 organizations and 12 million cardholders with this approach. This is the first program of its kind in the nation where a higher education institution has tried this sort of partnership.

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3 thoughts on “Go Bears, Search Looksmart

  1. RC Jordan says:

    This seems to be just a new wrapper and sales pitch for the old search function that LS has provided Cox Media (others?) for some years now. If it is, Cal might be a little concerned about the depth/quality of the index.

    Try it out by searching the web in the upper right-hand corner of this Cox newspaper site http://www.reflector.com/

  2. Those Cox directories are actually separate from the index, and they date back to pre-IPO times.

    LS used to distribute through hundreds of Mom-and-Pop ISP’s, giving them a search box on their homepages (excuse me, “portals”) in return for traffic, and this deal doesn’t sound that different. LS gave up being a search engine for a while, and they’re having to get back into the game after MSN dropped them, so tried-and-true is good.

    Somehow these marketing stunts remind me of WKRP in Cincinnati. Hope they don’t drop any turkeys from helicopters.

  3. Jeff Bolt says:

    Hmm, seems to work pretty well, though. I got an email from the alumni association and downloaded the search toolbar (www.calbearssearch.com). There seems to be a pretty good buzz about this at CAL, who seem to be counting on if for serious revenue. Maybe LookSmart has figured out the algorithm thing after all.