SAN FRANCISCO: In an environment where new online products debut daily, search firm Rollyo took a personalized step to ensure its launch would not go unnoticed.
By tapping 20 celebrities and bloggers, called High Rollers, to beta test the site and provide a specific search tailored to their interest, founder Dave Pell ensured the launch would be widely talked, and more important, blogged about.
His only requirement was that the bloggers not write about the site until launch, and all complied.
Rollyo allows individuals to create a personalized search engine that pulls results from a list of up to 25 websites or blogs. Users can also use custom search engines created by other Rollyo visitors, including searches from the High Rollers.
Well-known bloggers included Jeff Jarvis (of BuzzMachine), Steve Rubel (of Micro Persuasion), and Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post) all provided searches based on their interests.
But getting bloggers involved wasn't the only strategy.
"We say everyday that we don't want this to be a site only for geeks like us," Pell said. "We want it to be much more mainstream."
So he got non-blogging celebrities to create search rolls based on their interests. Actresses Rosario Dawson (Latino politics) and Debra Messing (fashion) and designer Diane Von Furstenberg (fashion) all participated.
Search Engine Watch and Battelle Media, two influential search blogs, gave the launch good reviews, and Pell said several hundred other blogs mentioned the service.
"We're now going to do some mainstream press," Pell says. The company has hired a freelance publicist to help with that push.