About.com Makes Big Leadership Changes As It Zeroes In On Native Advertising And Social

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About.com has been around since 1996, but nearly 20 years later the company is undergoing a relatively large shakeup.

Just recently, Neil Vogel took over as Chief Executive Officer to revamp About.com for today’s internet, complete with social and a fresh look. But he’s not the only new face on the payroll: Scott Kim, originally from About.com’s sister site Ask.com, will now take over as Chief Operating Officer, while Alex Ellerson will head up Content at the SVP level. Meanwhile, About.com also brought on Aol’s Matthew Knell as Vice President of social media and community strategy.

Kim is a strong fit for the COO title at About.com, as he spent the last few months in the role of interim CEO while the company searched for what inevitably wound up being Vogel at CEO. TechCrunch asked Kim why he was interested in switching from Ask.com to About.com.

“The primary reason is because of the massive opportunity here,” said Kim. “About has such awesome content, and I want to work on the product that consumers see every day.”

Ellerson, on the other hand, comes to About.com from Howcast Media, where he was COO, with previous experience at Google and Yahoo!. But what will change under Ellerson? Well, according to him and CEO Vogel, there will be a larger focus on the areas that About.com excels in.

“My plan is to better assess our strengths and weaknesses, so we can focus on those,” said Ellerson. “We do really well in food and money and health, as well as home garden and hobbies.”

“Those happen to be areas that make for good businesses,” Vogel chimed in. “Those areas we have a lot of traffic and great content in, we’ll begin looking to monetize.”

Obviously, this begs the question, will About.com use native advertising within its content. Vogel says the answer is yes, but with caution.

“We’ll be super sensitive to our own content, and be clear about what is marketing and what isn’t marketing,” said Vogel. “But it’s a really big opportunity to let marketers talk to our audience in the voice that they’re already comfortable with.”

Obviously, About.com has solid traffic but could also desperately use a touch-up in the design department. That said, Vogel promises that over time, the small changes to the site will make a big difference.