Answers.com sees growth in wiki responses

NEW YORK Tue Jun 3, 2008 7:59pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Somewhere between Google Inc and the community-generated Wikipedia, reference website Answers.com aims to build a new growth model.

The site has found its millions of users are keen to get community-written bits of knowledge, known as wikis, alongside its trusted encyclopedia entries.

To spur growth, top Answers Corp executives told Reuters on Tuesday they plan to connect more closely between such results on Answers.com and 1-1/2 year-old sibling site WikiAnswers.com.

Both sites pull up answers based on a question posed by a user, compared with searches for individual keywords used on sites like industry leader Google.

"People are going back to the answers format. They started that way, now they're going back to it," said Robert Formentin, vice president of advertising sales at Answers Corp.

Some search players, including IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask.com, are also paying attention to consumers interested in getting specific questions answered rather than trawling through Web links to find the results they sought.

Chief Executive Bob Rosenschein said the company would foster more "cross-pollination" between Answers.com and WikiAnswers.com, including a shared search bar.

Daily page views on WikiAnswers have grown to over 2 million as of March, from about 250,000 when it began to operate in early 2007.

The site has also grown to 10.3 million unique monthly visitors as of April and is expected to reach 11 million in early June.

"I've never been involved in a property that grows this fast," Rosenschein said.

LEXICO DEAL

Answers Corp made headlines in recent months with plans to buy Dictionary.com parent Lexico, for $100 million in cash. But the deal fizzled in March after Answers scrapped a stock offering needed to fund it.

Two weeks ago, IAC's Ask.com sealed a deal to buy Lexico, saying it would help expand its audience by 11 percent.

Rosenschein said he didn't regret the turn of events.

"I hope it's for the best," he said on Tuesday. "Had we known WikiAnswers would grow the way it did, I'm not sure we'd have done it in the first place."

WikiAnswers lets users improve the responses they received to a particular question, relying on a community of expert users to suggest answers for everything from how to grow a greener lawn to what is the best relief for a migraine,

The company estimates nearly 50 percent of its WikiAnswers users are in the 25 to 44 age range, with another 21 percent from the 18- to 24-year-old demographic.

Formentin said the company is signing on new advertisers for the WikiAnswers site and hopes to woo more marketers with the idea that they are giving people information at the moment they have asked for it.

Answers Corp has said it expects revenue of $13 million to $14 million this year, up from $11.4 million in 2007.

(Editing by Richard Chang)

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