Neil Vogel, an entrepreneur who created the Webby Awards, is the new CEO of About.com. He plans to increase traffic and add more flash to the site while sticking to its advertising-based business model.

The 15th Annual Webby Awards - Cocktails
photo: Getty Images

About.com announced on Tuesday that Neil Vogel, founder of the best-of-the-internet “Webby Awards,” will be the company’s new CEO. His immediate tasks will be to increase the site’s brand recognition and to persuade people to spend more time engaging with the content produced by About.com’s more than 900 expert “guides.”

Vogel arrives eight months after the New York Times Company sold About.com to IAC, an internet conglomerate best known for the Ask.com brand. Prior to the sale, About.com — which depends heavily on search for its traffic — suffered a drop in business when Google downgraded its content in its search algorithm.

In a phone interview, Vogel said the Google setback was overblown and About.com is humming along at a profitable pace on the basis of its traditional display and automated ad business. He also claimed that ad prices have stayed strong and that the existing “monetization model is very good.”

Vogel said his immediate plans are to grow traffic and to make the site flashier along the lines of BuzzFeed or Pinterest. He also says the site has great content but low name recognition.

“There’s clearly some design things to make this site more compelling,” he said, adding that there was a lot of potential on the “social side” but that the same social strategies don’t work for all content.

Whatever strategy Vogel chooses, he has no shortage of content with which to work. It will be interesting to see what a CEO with a show business streak does to spice up a website that covers everything from bankruptcy to baseball to Buddhism.

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  1. Colin Crawford Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    The Webby Awards was founded by Tiffany Shlain, was originally owned to IDG (International Group) and subsequently sold to Neil’s company. Neil and the team did a great job building on the foundations of The Webby Awards – but he was not the founder.

  2. Colin Crawford Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    ugh – no editing ability on comments – * owned by IDG

  3. RFO Jefferson Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Sure, Google’s downgrade of About.com content hurt that site’s traffic. On the other hand, I bet they get a lot more hits now when someone searches for “crap,” because About’s content is the perfect result for that.

  4. Technologeek Monday, May 6, 2013

    Hey Jeff,

    I agree with the new CEO of About.com. Social Media and mobile experience is the key to the success of today blogs. The potential of About.com is huge and Neil has understood how to use it to its advantage. I really think that this CEO should be add to the list of the 5 best CEOs of 2013 (http://www.technologeek.net/the-5-best-tech-ceos/).

    Best regards, Brunner Nathan

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