FAST Rolls Out Local Search Technology

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FAST Search & Transfer is expected to announce today the availability of its search technology for licensing by online directory sites.


FAST said it would begin offering its FAST AdVisor search application to online directory sites like ThomasNet and Norway's Findexa and to career sites such as CareerBuilder. The FAST AdVisor search platform can sort both database and Web content while letting users drill down for more information by category.


FAST sees the chance to use its enterprise search expertise already tapped by clients like AT&T, Dell and IBM to help online directories compete with new local search engines from Google and Yahoo. Google and Yahoo introduced sites in recent months that integrate Web search, maps and directory content to connect users to local information.


"This allows e-directories to give end users a much more robust experience and at the same time allow the e-directories to compete," said David Isaacson, a product manager for Oslo, Norway-based FAST.


FAST AdVisor has several advertising-related features. It lets the site determine for itself when an advertiser listing is shown, setting parameters such as the amount bid for placement or the length of time as an advertiser.


Isaacson said Internet directory sites have advantages over search engines in the emerging local search space. Directories already have vast databases of local business information as well as large sales forces to introduce small businesses to online advertising.


"We think coming in and helping the e-directories with that technology really puts them in a much better position," he said.


The 23.7 million U.S. small businesses are seen as prime candidates for the expansion of search marketing beyond the roughly 200,000 now using it. According to The Kelsey Group, the market for local search marketing could reach $2.5 billion in 2008. Jupiter Research, however, thinks it will grow much more slowly, anticipating $824 million in 2008.


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