IQ News: Portal Closing? Lycos Prepares To Launch Network Of Sites

The fruits of Lycos’ $274 million buying spree, which includes the acquisition of online directory WhoWhere and community site Tripod, is beginning to take shape.
Officials at the Framingham, Mass.-based company said last week that the company would use the sites as the basis of the Lycos Network–a compilation of eight sites that together claim more than 40 percent reach across the Web, according to Media Metrix. The Lycos ad sales force convened last week on the West Coast to figure out how to sell the Network to advertisers.
“Our top priority is to build as much reach as we can,” said Rick Boyce, senior vice president of advertising and commerce at Wired Digital, which was bought by Lycos earlier this month.
Not lost in all the planning is the re-emergence of terminology familiar to the television media world. For now, Lycos Network ad buys can be limited to select “channels,” based on specific consumer interests, or “network-wide”–a purchase across all eight Lycos properties, including MailCity for e-mail, Tripod for personal homepage building and WhoWhere. Ad buys can also be tailored to specific pages and targeted to users’ tastes and demographic and geographic data, according to Dave Peterson, vice president of sales at Lycos. Datek Online is the first advertiser to make buys across the network, he added.
The formation of the Lycos Network may be the first indication that the portal concept–or notion of becoming an entranceway to the Web–could again lose favor to a business plan among search and navigation services that’s more akin to the way television networks work: by trying to attract and retain viewer loyalty through programming. “What we’re evolving from is more of a portal to a hub, which is more of a destination,” explained Peterson. He added that the consumer regards portals as offering just search and navigation functions.
Lycos, which has consciously steered clear of describing itself in the more fashionable “portal” parlance, intends to emphasize to consumers and advertisers its core search and navigation capabilities along with personal homepage publishing, Web directories and community features like chat and e-mail. In the coming weeks, Lycos will launch a campaign supporting the Network.
By year-end, Lycos expects to incorporate Wired Digital’s three online properties into the Network.