Today, About.com, one of the Internet's most venerable brands, is unveiling a new name to represent its new identity -- while simultaneously paying tribute to its past. Under its newly-unveiled identity, Dotdash, the publisher will be among the fastest-growing publishers online, with its brands among the fastest-growing in their respective categories.
"Our new name speaks to the remarkable evolution of our business into a world-class premium publisher," says Neil Vogel, CEO of the newly-minted Dotdash, who headed to Collision 2017 in New Orleans to announce the move. Vogel explains that the "Dot" in "Dotdash" is a nod to the property's 20-year history, given that a red dot has consistently been a part of the About.com visual identity. As for the latter half of the name? "The dash suggests forward motion and action."
Pivoting from a general interest site to a multi-vertical brand isn't easy, especially an Internet icon such as About; to leadership's credit, it became clear that a pivot was indeed necessary. Vogel highlights the market's benefits in the past versus now. "You could win on a unified brand," he explains, referring to the past; now, "consumers, advertisers all prefer verticals." About's discovery about the shifting world of content isn't one that was uncovered overnight; in fact, Vogel admits "if we hadn't struggled, we wouldn't have been able to do the pivot."
The "niche-ification" of content and verticals
Dotdash's pivot represents a tonal shift in the world of content (albeit digital or not) and raises a greater question: how do consumers want to receive their concept? The company formerly known as About's start as a general purpose site wasn't wrong for the times; in fact, it cemented them as a trustworthy source of content for repeat viewers. The future of content, however, demands being laser-focused on one specific vertical or another.
Dotdash isn't the only company that has realized how important focus is: pop culture media entity Buzzfeed has found major success with its viral food vertical, Tasty. Like Dotdash, Buzzfeed has begun building a slew of verticals underneath the weight of the Buzzfeed brand. Tasty in particular targets the foodie, has little to no mention of Buzzfeed, and hones in on everything that matters to this consumer; quick, enjoyable recipe ideas.
It's not just Buzzfeed: media franchise Gizmodo has become a many-armed beast, developing verticals for various types of tech, geek and literature content. Gizmodo's lineup has been cemented for a few years, but what falls under their umbrella are a collection of strong media properties with relative clout in their perspective fields: I09, Jezebel, Kotaku, Fusion, Lifehacker and The Root are just a few in the lineup.
A collection of properties valuable to advertisers
Dotdash isn't taking for granted the content and written expertise that was built over the last 20 years. Like Gizmodo, Dotdash will take the content and it's audience loyalty and weave its existing content into the new verticals. Dotdash brands will now include Verywell (health), The Spruce (home), The Balance (personal finance), Lifewire (tech), ThoughtCo (education), and the soon to be launched TripSavvy (travel).
Lifewire, the tech vertical from Dotdash has already has put together over 16,000 articles focused around the unifying theme of simplifying technology while being supported by industry specialists. The sites's new direction thrives of actionable content rather than the average DIY sites out there. A great example comes in the form of articles like The 8 Best Drones to Buy in 2017, or 13 Ways You're Screwing Up Your Computer. Lifewire will still cater to the occasional DIY-lover of course, but while remaining true it's very own niche vertical.
Dotdash brands new approach features modern, clean, and uncluttered design with an unobscured focus on trusted content, and have scaled intent-driven audiences. The new cohesive vision goes beyond consumer attraction. New cleaner verticles, mean advertisers can cut through the standard content fodder. "We help advertisers connect with consumers seeking to take action," says Dotdash's President of Advertising and Partnerships, Andrew Gorenstein. Indeed, that's probably one of Dotdash's top advantages to advertisers: from planning vacations to managing their health needs to home repair, the content being consumed gives specific insight into a consumer's purchase intent. That's incredibly valuable to the typical advertiser. Gorenstein cites Dotdash's "contextual data capabilities with a best-in-class content studio" as reasons why the company's properties have seen so much recent success.
With any luck, Dotdash looks to capitalize on the content trends of today; given their proven ability to pivot, there's no indication they won't be able to anticipate and master the content trends of tomorrow.