FAST is known for its industrial strength enterprise search solutions. Now the company is taking on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (GYM) on their own consumer turf with FASTMedia, a new search and ad delivery platform developed in partnership with major media companies.
The basic message from FAST is that publishers need to take control of advertising relationships and don't need to share revenue and customers with third-party advertising networks, such as those provided by GYM.
According to Neilsen/NetRatings and FAST customer data from October 2006, the FASTMedia Network, which includes the top 35 U.S. media companies, has a 21 percent market share, compared to Google's 43 percent and Yahoo's 21 percent.
In addition, the FAST Media Network has a projected growth year over year of 70 percent compared to 30 percent for Yahoo and 23 percent for Google (if you can believe the numbers). IDC analyst Sue Feldman reports that 70 percent of search queries don't originate at the major search engines, supporting FAST's confidence in the market opportunity.
FAST CTO Bjorn Olstad, CEO John Lervik and FASTMedia General Manager Perry Solomon
FAST claims, optimistically, that within two years the FAST Media Network of sites will surpass Google in search and advertising activity. It is an expression of the long tail of search, according to Perry Solomon, vice president and general manager of FAST's Media Solutions Group. "More and more people are building specialized search, with local ads and moving out the evil empire guys [Google, Yahoo and Microsoft].
The reality is that most publishers are not throwing out Google and Yahoo at this point, but Solomon insisted that as publishers build traffic, they will push out the major search engine ad programs, making more money from their own ad networks that FASTMedia private labels.
"The key reason why media companies are paralyzed is that they lack a way to fight back. Now we have developed the knowledge and expertise with these companies," said FAST co-founder and CEO John Lervik. FAST's media customers include the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Reed Elsevier, Comcast, NBC, Hearst, Deutsche Telecom, MapQuest.
In addition to FAST's search and datawarehousing, the FASTMedia platform includes AdMomentum, a contextual advertising platform; Multimedia Miner, surfacing relevant content in any format via a single search interface; Featured Content, for search-driven merchandising; Unity, for federating content and portal experiences; and MSP, delivering targeted and personalized content and ads to mobile devices.
FAST is not some little startup poking a stick at the search/ad giants. The company, headquartered in Norway, has over 3,500 installations and is a leader in enterprise search, competing with companies such as Autonomy, IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Google. "We have 500 engineers, and if you add up the engineers we collaborate with, we have 4,000 to 5,000 in our innovation network. We are stronger and bigger than Google, and not a one trick pony," said Lervik. It may be that publishers can have the best of both worlds--the long, long tail that GYM reaches and the long, bushy tail derived from adopting a platform like FASTMedia.