InfoSpace today launched Zoo.com, a search engine for kids that filters out sexually explicit content. It does this by filtering out search results that contain any of a list of 50,000 adult words or phrases. It also prioritizes search results from a refined corpus of sources known to be mostly clean, including Wikipedia, ABC News and Yahoo! News.
The site will be aimed at 8- to 13-year-olds (the “tween” demographic) who use the Web primarily to help with their homework. InfoSpace claims that 49 percent of tweens in the U.S. use the Internet more than any other source for homework 20 percent more than the library and 30 percent more than books at home (including encyclopedias).
This could be an effective way to establish a destination where kids won’t accidentally stumble across adult content, which can easily happen in general search queries (of course this won’t cut down on the amount of adult content found on purpose). The trick will be to market it to parents to, in turn, instill the habit among their kids to look first to Zoo.com for homework, and even plant it as a home page on family PCs.
Appealing to parents’ protectiveness of what their kids consume online in this way could create some valuable stickiness for Zoo.com. The demographic targeting inherent in the product also creates clear contextual advertising opportunities, which InfoSpace will realize through sponsored links in search results. Check out the site for yourself here, and read the press release here.
The San Jose Mercury News points to a study today that indicates there is not as much sexually oriented content online as most people think.