Vertical Search:
Is it Really the Next Big Thing?

This was the name of a
panel discussion at SIIA lead
by Dave Kellogg (President and
CEO, Mark Logic). The panelists included Stephen
(CEO, Reed Search), Kelly
(Chairman and CEO, KnowledgeStorm)
and Brad Mehl (VP Marketing, ThomasNet). 

According to the
list Fred Wilson had provided
a few days before, vertical search may very
well be the next big thing.

Discovery and Navigation
All three panelists spoke
about using their knowledge of specific industry or domain areas of expertise
to provide the searcher with a better answer, to disambiguate search results.

The more time knowledge
workers spend searching, the less time they have to analyze search results and
apply them to their professions. Reed’s
goal is to increase productivity by getting people to the right answer quickly. That answer might be “in an article, another
website or in someone’s head”. Community
is a component of vertical search. 

Context is another
critical component. 

ThomasNet is a 100%
web-based service derived from the Thomas Register, a 109 year old print
directory of industrial buyers, sellers, and parts. 

ThomasNet adds metadata
and hand crafts descriptions of organizations, standards, minority status, and
other business and parts in order to add context for search. As Brad points out, when you search ThomasNet
“you’re not going to get the same results you get on Google.”

Content businesses that
leverage established client relationships, add value to their content by
providing specialized search capabilities and community features, and aren’t
afraid of pointing clients to the best answer, even if they don’t own it, will build
trust and success online.  

As Stephen pointed out, even
though there is increasing attention scarcity, more community sites are popping

Kelly Gay agreed saying
that while vertical search isn’t ONLY about community, when you find people
like yourself, it can be “very sticky”.