As of today, About.com going away. In its place will live Dotdash (.dash), which culminates the company’s year-long transformation from a general interest website to a collection of stand-alone vertical brands.
The company’s reinvention has been in the works for a while, as About.com has spun off the vertical sites. First came Verywell, a site dedicated to health and wellness, featuring the advice of 100 doctors, pharmacists and dietitians. After that came The Balance which helps people with financial matters, Lifewire to provide answers on technology issues, and its most recent, The Spruce, which combines its food and home channels into one overarching home site. On 15 May, a fifth site called Trip Savvy, a travel site, will be added to the mix.
“From the team that brought you About.com, we bring you Dotdash,” said chief executive officer Neil Vogel of the IAC-owned company. He sees the new Dotdash as a publishing house. “We’re an online publisher with really great vertical brands. We’re a publisher, just like Conde Nast or Hearst."
The numbers on comScore back up Vogel’s claims. Verywell is a top ten health information site that reached 17 million US unique users in March 2017. The site’s audience has grown 62% since its launch in May 2016, faster than any site in its category.
The Balance is a top ten personal finance and investing site that reached over 13 million US unique users in March 2017. The site has grown 106% since its launch in September 2016, faster than any site in its category.
Lifewire, meanwhile, reached seven million US unique users in March 2017, with its audience having grown 96% since its launch in November 2016.
The Spruce launched in February 2017 and reached nearly nine million US unique users in March 2017 according to comScore's Media Metrix report for the period.
The reason for the company saying goodbye to its two decades-old About.com site is that Vogel said it didn’t have relevance with internet users.
“About.com doesn’t mean anything anymore,” said Vogel, adding that when they surveyed people about where they get their health information or about tech information, nobody said About.com, even if that’s where they ended up. “We needed individual brands to stand on their own."
The name change was the last part of the transition. “We wanted to change the company first. We didn’t just want to put a different coat of paint on the house – we had to fix the house,” said Vogel.
Regarding the new company, Dotdash, Vogel said that consumers aren’t going to know it, since it will be a B2B brand and not a consumer-facing brand. Still, the people that work for the company were excited for the change and the new branding.
“People are super psyched to work here now. 18 months ago, we were making huge bet on our future that we didn’t know was going to work. They want this to be their thing,” he stated.
Vogel also said that each of brands can now live on their own, and that the Dotdash name will hopefully eventually be as known at the same level as other big New York publishers. He said the name gives the company a lot of flexibility that the About.com name did not.
Vogel explained that finding a new name to pair with a good domain was tough, but the Dotdash name spoke to them on several levels.
“There’s always been a bit red dot (in About.com), so we kept that. And a dash is punctuation for what comes next – a sense of moving forward. Also, dot dash in Morse code is the letter A. That ties everything together,” said Vogel.