Podcast: All About Dotdash

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Dotdash is among the oldest continuously operating digital publishers. In its previous incarnation as About.com, the company employed legions of “experts” on topics as varied as saving for retirement, diabetes and the Middle East. Later, under the ownership of IAC, it rebranded as Dotdash and structured all its content around seven special interest brands: Verywell, The Spruce, The BalanceInvestopedia, Lifewire, TripSavvy and ThoughtCo. After years of flagging traffic, the move was a bid to differentiate with users and advertisers.

It worked. In a Nov. 8 letter to shareholders, IAC said it would break out Dotdash into its own segment, citing Q3 revenue growth of 35% to $30 million. Annual gross revenues are set to surpass $100 million.

On the podcast this week, Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel describes the factors that have helped the company succeed in what is often thought of as a tough market for publishers. Those factors include fast-loading pages and reduced ad loads.

“The narrative that publishing is dying and everything sucks is a false narrative,” he says. “It’s a narrative put forth by people that are just now dealing with the outcome of bad decisions they’ve made over the last few years.”

The single largest change at the company has been its commitment to a limited but meaningful set of vertical interest areas. Focusing on seven areas has allowed the company to create trust with users, who ask themselves a handful of questions when they arrive at a landing page.

Vogel rattles them off: “What’s the domain? Do I know it? Are there too many ads? Are they weird crappy ads, or do these look like legitimate ads? And is this content readable and usable and fast?”

He adds, “You compete vertically on the Internet. It doesn’t matter if your site is general interest. If your article is on diabetes, you’re competing with the rest of the diabetes content on the Internet.”

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