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matchpoint-pic.jpg, a California-oriented start-up profiled here last August, has been acquired by Matchpoint, a 30-person service, backed by Oak Investments and IdeaLab and incubated by a team of largely LookSmart veterans. Matchpoint got started a year ago and launched in late summer 2007.

President Peter Adams says too many companies have focused on the search marketplace vertically. But Matchpoint takes a broader, horizontal view, listing up to 2,000 categories. “We can generate leads for any kind of business,” he says. “The next step up from pay-per-click is per-per-lead.”

“Consumers go to search or Yellow Pages,” adds Adams. “But they are getting millions of results. And they don’t (learn) anything about the businesses” from these sources. With Matchpoint, advertisers can provide fairly complete information. They are also provided with HTML links, which can include photos. No plans for video, however, are in the works.

The way the company works is it gets consumer profiles, determines their needs and sorts its database of businesses to come up with ideal matches. “We look to see what the consumers type in the forums,” says Adams. “For eye care, they’ll ask how you correct your vision. Or maybe they’ll note if they had prior corrective surgery.”

After developing a list of leads, Matchpoint then calls the businesses, in case they aren’t glued to their PCs. The company is also studying the introduction of other confirmation platforms, such as instant messaging.

Consumers, for their part, get to see the entire list of businesses generated — typically, five. They have the option of calling businesses directly. But for reasons of privacy, businesses do not get to see the consumers’ information.

The cost of leads is based on an auction model. Some low-cost categories, such as wedding cakes, can go for $2. Others, like online trading, can go for $30.

Currently, advertisers are blended in with other listing companies, which are provided with up to 10 free leads. But if the level of advertising kicks up, advertisers might take up every slot.

Adams also notes that the company has aspirations for building a network far beyond the destination site (i.e., Just Eyes, which is touting Lasik Surgery using Matchpoint). “The forums are syndicatable widgets that other publishers can embed on their site,” he says, noting that Matchpoint already has a deal in place with MediaSpan to pitch its 1,500-plus publishers.

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