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 
[email protected] and other well-known Silicon Valley-based startups 
primarily funded Collarity.
Collarity senior vice president Debby Richman, a veteran of 
LookSmart,, 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 
available previously.
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 
service include:
GoingOn, an online community of Web influencers 
founded by RedHerring founder Tony Perkins.
•  Bruce Clay: top-tier search engine marketing 
consulting firm.
SwapThing: user-generated site focused on user-
to-user bartering.
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 
gave up.
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 
search outputs.
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 
usage-based fee.
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 
search results?
(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.

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