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Summary:

If you must think of every new thing as the “something-killer” then you’d probably call Life123 an About.com-killer, or a Mahalo killer, or…

If you must think of every new thing as the “something-killer” then you’d probably call Life123 an About.com-killer, or a Mahalo killer, or a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Knol killer. Fortunately, as Robert Deutsch, VP of content development & operations at the new IAC-owned unit, assured me, About.com doesn’t have to die for Life123 to thrive. We first broke the news that IAC (NSDQ: IACI) was cooking up a new how-to aggregator back in April. At the time, we knew it as Life333.com, which was in fact an early name for the project. Turns out, in testing, users didn’t like the concept of dividing content into 3-minute, 30-minute and 3-hour chunks so that named got ditched for the current one. The new site still offers users the chance to dive into a topic at various depths from quick and dirty summaries to more thorough explorations

The site is an aggregator of how-to type content, all of it acquired through various partnerships, many with IAC’s far-flung properties. Within the IAC family, content is provided by Match.com, Shoebuy.com, LendingTree.com, RealEstate.com, ServiceMagic, Ask, Pronto and Reserve America. It’s launching today with about 1,000 topics on topics like HDTVs and superfoods, and 10,000 distinct pieces of content. And like its natural competitors, SEO is a big part of the strategy. Said SVP/GM Ben Joslin: “Obviously, at IAC we have deep SEO expertise.” But, he noted, the goal is still to make good content, not just to make content that shows up well in search.

The obvious question: What will make Life123 stand out from the crowded herd, including the competitors listed above, along with numerous other guides, directories and how-to sites? Lots more after the jump

Joslin had good stuff to say about About, but said the site lacked its own, branded content. As for Mahalo, he said: “What they’ve done is gone and created a landing page.” Rather than a place to go discover more stuff elsewhere, Life123 wants to be a destination. And as for all those other sites out there, he said most of them spoon feed users content, instead of allowing them to discover at the depth they want.

Business model: Life123 offers a mix of licensed and originally produced content. Only written, in-house content, which will make up 70 percent of the site, will be paid for directly. Content acquired from outside partners is obtained through a variety of deals, including performance-based measures. For video — one of the hottest how-to areas — the company is partnering with 5min.com, an Israeli startup that raised $5 million earlier this year from Spark. The revenue model is pretty straightforward, based around advertising. And while Joslin likened the business to an annuity (it keeps paying you in perpetuity as long as it shows up in search), a key goal here is to help the rest of IAC, including the spins. If the site can deliver more traffic to properties like LendingTree and Shoebuy, that’s “additional juice from the squeeze”, even if it doesn’t directly benefit Life123′s bottom line. That being said, the ultimate goal is to make money for itself. Finally, I was curious, especially in the wake of Knol’s launch, about the relationship between the site and Ask.com. Right now there are no plans for any deep integration between the two services, although Ask.com does power the search engine that’s on the site, as you’d expect. And the site will be indexed by Ask just as any other site would

Bottom Line: Sure, sites like About.com, Mahalo, Knol and now this all have different content acquisition strategies, and they may serve different purposes for users. But as long as a big part of the game is just selecting high-volume searches and then showing up high on Google, more and more players are vying for an increasingly scarce commodity. And there’s also the chance that Google may redouble its efforts to be the last search engine you need, not the place to find another place to find content.

  1. Nathan Richardson Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Seems like a distraction technique for the other activities just spinning out all the other companies he destroyed.

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  2. Hey, great news. IAC gets more google adsense revenue. They are amazing web folks!

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  3. among the most boring new web launches i have seen for a long time.

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  4. they should take a look at howcast.com too for video partnerships…

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  5. isn't about.com all original content?

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  6. Yes, About.com is one of the Web’s largest producers of original content, with over two million articles, videos, tutorials, podcasts and more. In fact, we add over 6,000 new articles every week.

    About.com’s content is written by category experts and then vetted by a professional editorial team. It is not user-generated/user-edited content like the Wikipedia, nor is it aggregated content.

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  7. Life123 is making token payments to general writers who hammer together template articles. That is in addition to a lot of cut and paste material. Content is very weak.

    Site set up is very busy. Structure is loose. Loads of ads.

    Navigation is annoying. Articles may have extra page clicks – page 1, 2, 3. And, some of those pages do not open.

    Looks like this was thrown together. Probably was.

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  8. Yawn. Just another content dump site. Most of the stuff is junk.

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