By Charlene Li
I had a chance to speak with Tim Demello , the CEO of Ziggs, a new search engine that helps users find business professionals. The basic premise is that there are some professional – for example, lawyers, real estate agents, job candidates and yes, analysts – who want to be found on search engines like Google. Admit, haven’t you ever Googled yourself or someone else? And the results are typically mixed – you probably had a hard time finding a legitimate bio and contact information.
Enter Ziggs. They have in one index over 1 million profiles – spidered from thousands of corporate Web sites. Users can set up their own profiles (here’s mine) or companies can submit profiles on behalf of their professionals. For now, this is free for individuals, but Ziggs plans to charge a $25 fee in the future. This is basically like paid inclusion – you can control and add on to your profile, but only if you pay to play.
Ziggs goes one step further – it also can also buy your name on paid search services like Google and Overture on your behalf for $50 a year. They report that while they may lose money on names that are either popular (e.g. John Smith) or celebrity (Dennis Miller), the names bought on search engines have generated on average 400 clicks a year at a cost of 6.5 cents each – a grand total of $26 a year. That’s a nice tidy profit to be made, basically because someone doesn’t want to go and bother buying their name directly on search engine.
I believe this service will have a future, primarily because they are meeting the search marketing needs of a unique segment – professionals who want to be found by their name. Even more importantly, companies that bank on their professionals – consultants, law firms, real estate – will want to be able to easily upload, manage, and market their employees online. Tim shared that companies have told him during sales calls that nobody has ever addressed this issue directly. Competitors like Eliyon resell their professional database, primarily to recruiters while social networking sites like LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, and Ryze don’t provide an easy way for their members to connect back to existing company profiles.
So for $50 a year, this might be a bargain for some companies and individuals. Just as a point of comparison, I’ve spent only $12 in the past year buying my name on Google – I’m a big believe in maintaining personal brands (see this article from the nytimes.com). Here’re my search marketing stats from Google for the past year:
+ 17,126 total impressions (2,031 or 22% from AdWords)
+ 240 total clicks (160 or 66% from AdWords)
+ Average clickthrough rate was 1.4% overall, 7.9% for AdWords, 0.5% for AdSense.