GO.com Launches New Site, Ad Campaign

Joining GoTo.com in an effort to find a means of survival in a crowded portal market, GO.com unveiled a sizable revamping of its Web portal this month; and now it’s kicking off a major ad campaign to support the new image.

The GO.com site started out as a portal site — designed dually to compete with Yahoo! and American Online, and to serve as the cornerstone of an online network that includes Disney.com, ESPN.com and ABCNews.com, sites also owned by GO’s parent, the Walt Disney Internet Group.

Through its new site and new message — “the ultimate guide to your free time” — GO.com is attempting to narrow its focus to a search engine and Internet guide, not terribly dissimilar to About.com.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for an easier way to find information on the Web on what to do with their free time — that means entertainment, sports, travel and family activities — areas where Disney excels,” said Walt Disney Internet Group chairman Steve Bornstein.

“We believe we are in a unique position to lead in this category, and that our new Web guide meets that need. With its new focus, GO.com is an extremely compelling consumer proposition.”

The similarities to About.com are especially apparent with “Proven Picks” — Web search engine results ranked by human reviewers, called GO Guides. The guides number about 35,000 and are not paid, but are compensated with points good for contest entries. About.com’s more than 700 Guides are paid.

Radio and television ads supporting the relaunch are being rolled out this week. The New York-based agency Cliff Freeman & Partners is handling the bulk of GO’s $30 million campaign. The agency is perhaps best known for its work for consumer electronics e-tailer Outpost.com spots in 1998.

While off-the-wall and award-winning, that campaign came to be identified with exorbitant dot-com ad spending and questionable results: Outpost.com reportedly saw little improvement in sales with the work.

Online ads for GO’s campaign are created in-house and by San Francisco-based interactive agencies Pop Media and Tonic 360, which will be acquired by J. Walter Thompson. The ads and promotional campaigns will run on other Disney properties.

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