Tries To Out-Google Google With People Search


imageTo the likes of Spock, Spokeo and — you can now add yet another social media-focused people search engine: MyLife. The product of last year’s merger between and Wink, MyLife aims to capitalize on all the info people reveal about themselves through various social networks. It has more than one billion profiles in its index already, the company says.

While Google (NSDQ: GOOG) owns the core search space, it’s still not the de facto standard for verticals like image, video search, or even classifieds. That’s where upstarts like MyLife join the ranks of rivals like *Yahoo* and *Microsoft* that are increasingly trying to dominate verticals like people search and e-commerce. Of course, there’s no comparison between MyLife and Google quantitatively — clocks in a much higher volume of searches — but there’s also no way to break out how many searches there are for individual names or people. During some informal, qualitative searches we did for “everyday people” (as opposed to well-known personalities), MyLife delivered more relevant results; the queries resulted in links to social-media profiles, former high schools and colleges; in the case of MyLife members, it led to detailed contact info. While Google’s people search also returned social-media profile listings, there were also less-relevant documents like news clips, blog posts and text ads from other white pages search engines.

More after the jump

MyLife has two major hurdles to clear in its push to own people search: users need to register to access basic results, and the most detailed listings are locked behind a pay wall. But CEO Jeffrey Tinsley said that’s the main difference between his company and other people-search outfits: the company operates both ad-supported and subscription-based services, and claims over a million paid subscribers. He added that the combined companies had brought in about $52 million in revenue in 2008 — up 92 percent from the previous year — and that he expected to turn in a “significant profit” this year off about $100 million in sales.

Where’s the revenue coming from? Mostly subscriptions, though Tinsley said ad sales would contribute more this year — even with the downturn: “We’re not targeting demographics with no money,” he said, noting that MyLife’s core user is mostly women over 25. He added that the company was attracting about 2.5 million new registered users per month, though the influx seemingly comes at quite a price: MyLife spends about $35 to $45 million on advertising per year on paid search, display and text distribution ads; Tinsley insisted that the majority of new registrants came to the site organically, not through marketing tactics.

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