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VOX Interviews Quigo CEO

With vertical search company Quigo in the news a lot recently, MarketingVOX sent over a small batch of questions for CEO Michael Yavonditte, in an attempt to figure out how Quigo hoped to carve out a successful and defensible niche in the fast growing search space. He replies with answers suggesting that Quigo hopes to lock in the biggest partners possible, entrenching itself where targeting seems to work best….

Yavonditte has been in the industry for some time, taking a tortuous path starting in publishing (Ziff-Davis) and winding up in a variety of internet companies, including Juno, Altavista and USA Networks.

MarketingVOX: What is the mechanic behind the higher conversion rates Quigo clicks throw off? Is it that the vertical nature of the media properties means Quigo has a more targeted audience? Or is it that this audience is in more of a business-y mode?

Yavonditte: We place travel advertisers into a special "travel-only" index. Then, we place travel publishers into a "travel-only" vertical. Only after this occurs do we use our sophisticated ad targeting algorithms to match the right travel ad to the right travel page. With this approach our relevancy is always on target, and, at worst, at category level.

When you give advertisers 100 percent qualified traffic, their conversions improve. This is why we strongly prefer our approach over the others in the marketplace.

MarketingVOX: How can Quigo maintain any advantage it may have if larger search engines could simply similarly divvy up their media pools as well?

Yavonditte: We're making rapid progress toward signing large publishers. They like our approach, as it generates relevant ads, higher click-through rates and ultimately better pay-outs for them. Other companies may decide to copy our approach - anything's possible, but we'll continue to focus on high quality traffic sources, while others get more entrenched in their approaches.

MarketingVOX: What is the nature of the Overture deal Quigo signed in August 03? Is that still in effect?

Yavonditte: It's still in effect but I'm contractually bound to confidentiality language that restricts my ability to discuss the details of the agreement.

MarketingVOX: Having received a VC round of about $5 million earlier this year, in what time frame are Quigo's backers expecting to see a liquid event?

Yavonditte: This is a hard question to answer, but we're growing rapidly, so it's hard to see a scenario that has Quigo selling the company anytime this year.

MarketingVOX: At the time of the investment, it seemed as though the funds were positioned as launch support to get an existing venture vaulted up into the realm of the big guys. Is Quigo looking for another round in the future?

Yavonditte: Quigo will always study proposals that come our way, whether it be straight VC investments or strategic investments from large media companies. We have a very valuable currency and expect to carefully use it as leverage to build our business.

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