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Ask CEO Doug Leeds Proclaims Search Wars “Over,” Says Yahoo Can Be Great Again
Ask.com has 3.5 percent of the search market according to comScore. Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds told Bloomberg that number may seem small but it makes his site the seventh largest in the US, “with 100 million people every month.”
Rather than claiming that his search market share will continue to grow, Leeds proclaims that “the search wars are over and Google’s won.” He says that the people who go to Ask “represent a different use case all together. It’s people asking questions.”
On What Ask Does Now
“We’re serving people who want to get an answer to a question right now,” explains Leeds. He adds that Ask is able to provide “answers” rather than directing people to other sites. “People come to us and stay with us.”
Half of the queries Ask sees are phrased in the form of a natural language question vs. only 8 percent for Google. Leeds says Ask is trying to answer those questions without sending people “across the web.”
Leeds adds that his company (and parent IAC) acquired About.com to better fulfill that mission and to provide more content on the Ask.com site. About.com has 950 experts/guides creating content. Leeds likens Ask to a library and About.com to a great collection of books for that library.
Advice for Yahoo
Leeds once worked at Yahoo. Asked to assess Yahoo under Marisa Mayer and whether it can come back he offers a generally positive response. “Marisa’s doing the right stuff and talking about doing the right stuff.” But he advises Yahoo to “Figure out why your users come to you, get better at it and double-down on that.”
For Ask, Leeds says, it’s questions and answers. “For Yahoo it’s the [consumer] products that we all used to love,” he says without elaborating specifically. However Leeds says that for the past few years Yahoo “has all been about ad products . . . and making money.”
Leeds observes that Yahoo hasn’t invested in the consumer side of its business for a long time. “If they get back to thinking about why users come to their site in the first place they’re going to be great [again].”