Marchex, the Nasdaq-traded online marketing company that owns more than 220,000 domain names, says it will distribute content generated by Web users and professionals on more than 100,000 of its domains by the end of the second quarter.
Seattle-based Marchex is leveraging content from its Open List search and content engine. The company already has built content on many sites that previously contained only pay-per-click advertising listings. Those sites include Remodeling.com, BostonMortgage.com, Locksmiths.com and SeattleInsurance.com, the company said in a news release last week.
The expansion means that many more of Marchex’s sites, which focus on topics ranging from restaurants to hotels to financial services, will feature user reviews, third-party reviews, local directories and maps. The company said the expansion will beef up Marchex’s sites in verticals such as autos, careers and professional services.
Marchex acquired three-year-old Open List for $13 million in cash and stock last year. The unit is critical to Marchex’s efforts to turn its domains into information portals that generate repeat visits from Web users. The company displays ads on its sites sold by Yahoo, and it sells ads directly to merchants. “We’re really focused on taking these Web sites and really building them into destinations,” John Keister, Marchex’s president, said at Citigroup’s entertainment and media conference in Las Vegas last month. “And that’s something that a lot of folks in this specific space … have not focused on or have not done a very good job of.”
Marchex also said last week that it was launching Open View, a proprietary technology that can automatically distill information about hotels, restaurants and other businesses from multiple sources into “distinct” and “meaningful” summaries. The technology is indicative of the rapid change occurring in online media, whereby computers are used to efficiently distribute content created by human beings. The goal is to give users relevant information in real time, and, of course, to get them to click on highly targeted ads. Web users will be coming across more and more of such sites in the next few years.
Marchex has deployed the technology at OpenList.com, where users can search for local hotels, restaurants and attractions, as well as at its Delis.com and NewYorkDining.com. “A key goal of Open List is to drive high-quality content in an automated fashion,” Matthew Berk, Marchex’s lead search architect, said in a statement. “The Open View technology is an example of the power of the Open List platform to aggregate and make sense of a wide variety of local content.”
In its most recent financial report, Marchex said its proprietary traffic — traffic from the domains it owns — accounted for $12.3 million, or 38 percent, of its $32.3 million in revenue in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. Marchex reported a net loss of $411,000, compared with net income of $27,000 a year earlier, though revenue rose 26 percent.
Marchex was founded in 2003 and went public in the spring of 2004. Its shares are up about 1.5 percent today to $12.60. The shares are trading about 40 percent higher than their opening-day close three years ago but about 50 percent off their peak of $26.40 on Dec. 19, 2005, according to data from Yahoo Finance.