Collarity builds search communities
Collarity Inc., a provider of community-based search technology, was
founded in mid-2005 by a group of developers. The Palo Alto, CA,
company today has 16 employees. The angel investors who funded
Excite@Home and other well-known Silicon Valley-based startups
primarily funded Collarity.
Collarity senior vice president Debby Richman, a veteran of
LookSmart, About.com, Overstock.com and D&B Information Services,
recently discussed the company's work and business model as well as
the opportunities for community-based search with DM News' Mickey
Alam Khan. Here are excerpts.
MAK: How does Collarity's technology work?
DR: Collarity harnesses the collective intelligence of site visitors
in the background, without asking them to tag, rate or save
information. This knowledge is then used to re-rank search results
and to guide searchers to content that best matches their interests.
Collarity collects anonymous search activity by site. A unique set of
implicit micro-communities form around the site's "hotspot" areas of
interest. The most valuable site content for each community is
clustered and cached. When visitors search, they receive results and
suggestions from the micro-community most highly associated with the
keyword phrase they have submitted. Highly targeted advertising is
included with the community-driven search results and guidance.
In addition, the publisher gets insightful perspectives on the likes,
dislikes and trends associated with the natural communities that have
self-segmented on each site. Collarity enables the publisher to
explore relationships among communities, Web pages, ads and keywords.
What is Collarity doing for Fox?
Collarity provides community-based search technology that powers both
site and Web search for Fox-owned TV stations. Collarity provides
community-based site search as a new offering for Fox and is using
this same community technology to improve the Web search that was
Why is Fox using this new system of searches?
Fox wanted to improve the quality of their site search and
incorporate the feedback from specific "communities of interest"
visiting each local TV station.
How does this help Fox with Web efforts?
When visitors arrive on a Fox site, they receive guidance from other
visitors who have previously searched and successfully found
interesting content on the site. All Fox content is segmented by
interests, with no required input from internal Fox editorial resources.
We expect Fox to improve their visitor satisfaction, increase page
views per visit, and produce incremental revenue from this traffic
What challenges are you helping Fox address?
Fox is interested in addressing the unique community and information
needs of each local market they serve. They see the benefits of
having other visitors guide the way for other like-minded searchers.
Community-based approaches are a priority for Fox.
Who else is using Collarity's service?
Collarity is working with a number of sites in various stages of
implementation. Some other sites with publicly available Collarity
• GoingOn, an online community of Web influencers
founded by RedHerring founder Tony Perkins.
• Bruce Clay: top-tier search engine marketing
•SwapThing: user-generated site focused on user-
What are problems and issues for Fox and Bruce Clay?
The biggest challenges [are] related to site search. While these
sites are in very different businesses, they both wanted to make sure
visitors didn't have to sift through irrelevant results before they
Instead, these publishers wanted to guide their respective site
visitors to site content that most interests them uniquely, with the
fewest possible number of clicks. By targeting content and ads, based
on the behavioral activity of site-specific communities of interest,
content is more naturally matched to each site visitor.
What makes Collarity's solution so good for publishers?
Collarity accelerates Web site results - page views, conversions,
retention - by better matching content to visitor requests, based on
the anonymous community behavior of a site's audience.
Publishers like the solution because it is easy to trial, as it works
as an overlay to existing IT infrastructure and Web interfaces. They
also like our no-risk business model, with no upfront or ongoing
costs. Collarity shares incremental ad revenue associated with
How does the business model work in terms of revenue share?
Collarity breaks the traditional model of charging a software license
fee for search services. It simply shares the incremental revenue
from highly targeted ads served through Collarity. If a site has a
"pay gate" or otherwise doesn't show advertising, then we charge a
Who are the key players in this field?
There are a number of competitors that claim to re-rank site search
results and provide content guidance based on the behavior of the
site's audience. However, there's no other company that we know about
which provides search suggestions or results based on implicit,
granular communities of interest.
How was Collarity's technology born? How did you think of doing this?
Collarity was born out of our frustration with current search
technology. We were founded with the following core questions in mind:
(1) Why are your search results exactly the same as the next person's
(2) After hours searching for something, what have you got to show
for it the next day?
(3) Why are you forced to find something that you know thousands of
others have already found?
Is this the next phase in search marketing?
Yes. We believe search relevance will impact how marketing works.
The first step happens when relevance is distilled from user-
generated data, as opposed to link popularity. We believe there is
vast untapped demand related to improving site search by leveraging
implicit visitor behavioral feedback.
Based on superior targeting in organic site search, we expect
marketing to enter this next phase. Instead of keywords or broad
match buys, search marketing will be optimized using the knowledge of
any site's communities.