Ask.com Plays The Google AdWords Arbitrage Game

Ah, Ask.com. Since I wrote their obituary in March, not much has got me thinking they'll make a comeback. Sure, there was the gimmick of kind of bringing back Jeeves himself. But the spate of "hotels.ask.com" ads I see them running on Google makes me think they're dropping further from being a search engine and more into a search arbitrage play. Take a look at this search for new hampshire hotels: See the ad? It promises that you can "Book here & Save A Massive 50%" with the site listed being New-Hampshire.Hotels.Ask.com. Click on the ad, and you get this: Rathe [...]


Ask.com Adds Privacy Link To Home Page, Hopes People Care

Google recently came under fire for not providing a link to its privacy policy right from its home page, as Yahoo and Microsoft do. Ask.com, apparently hoping to ride the issue to some consumer gains, has emailed us that it now proudly sports a privacy link on its home page, along with some new privacy smart answers. C'mon Google, just add the link -- seven letters, PRIVACY, won't take up much space. And it will at least stop others from riding you on the issue this way, even if practically no one will click on the link. More from the Ask email, below: An Open Letter to the Web Community [...]


Serial Clickfraud Lawsuit Firm Strikes Again, This Time At Citysearch

Click fraud lawsuit targets IAC's Citysearch from News.com reports the law firm of Kabateck Brown Kellner is targeting IAC's Citysearch.com for allegedly "defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars" by "turning a blind eye to click fraud" and actually "encouraging" the click fraud. This Los Angeles-based law firm has won suits against Google and Yahoo in the past on click fraud charges. In addition, last month it filed a new suit (Google Sued For Undesired AdSense Inclusion) against Google. In this case, the plaintiff is Tom Lambotte, who claimed he started a Citysearch ad [...]


Ask.com Buying Lexico, Owner Of Dictionary.com

In a move that is interesting and perhaps even surprising for several reasons, IAC/Ask is buying Lexico Publishing Group, which owns and operates "iconic" domains Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com. These sites get most of their traffic through direct navigation and will increase Ask's reach by 145 million unduplicated users (or 11 percent). Ask is saying this will make it the ninth most visited property online, ahead of Facebook. There was a deal on the table to buy Lexico last year from Answers.com, but it fell through. Answers was partly trying to buy Dictionary.com's direct [...]


Obit: A West Coast Digerati Deadpools Ask.com

Goodbye, Ask.com. You caught my eye back in 1997 as an unusual meta search engine that asked questions to get answers. By 1998, I counted you alongside Google and Direct Hit as shining examples of what to watch in search. You'd dumped depending on others for search results and started providing answers using your own human editors. I hung with you over the years, cheered when you acquired the impressive Teoma crawler in 2001. I was thrilled when you alone among the major search engines dumped the traditional search metaphor for the Ask3D view last year. Now you're just for women, apparently. [...]


IAC Cuts 8% Of Ask.com & Kills Search Engine

IAC's Ask.com to Cut Staff, Outlines New Search Strategy from the Wall Street Journal reports IAC has cut 8% of Ask.com's workforce, by letting go 40 people. Not only that, the Wall Street Journal says IAC is changing the strategy of the search engine to "focus to better answering search queries posed as questions." Ask's new chief executive, Jim Safka said "as we revamped things, we had redundancies," explaining they "are reorienting the company around" areas they can grow. So, in my opinion, instead of building out core technologies to compete in the search space, Ask.com will now go back [...]


Ask.com Calls Dumping Teoma Search Technology Rumors False

Last week, IAC Ready To Drop Ask.com Search Technology & Partner With Google? covered rumors that Ask might be dumping its own "Teoma" search technology. Just an hour ago, I received an official statement from Ask.com saying the rumor is false. Nicholas Graham, a spokesperson from Ask.com, told me: I wanted to get back to you about the false rumors flying about regarding Teoma. Bottom line: they are just flat-out not true. Our Teoma technology will continue to power search engine results on Ask.com. That's really all there is to it. I hope that helps to clarify things. That is a pretty str [...]


Updated: IAC Ready To Drop Ask.com Search Technology & Partner With Google?

IAC: Ready To Bail On Ask? from Silicon Valley Insider reports an insider tip that IAC may sell off or abandon their search technology and outsource it to Google. Here is the tip: There is indeed a big shakeup coming. A new Ask. Some think a reduction in workforce is likely. There are no sacred cows, Teoma may be sold or simply abandoned which is hundreds of engineers who work on the core search engine, in place of just using Google's search with our special brand of user interface. I can honestly say, if true, it does not surprise me. Diller, IAC's CEO, is not happy with the return he ha [...]


Not So Crazy: Yahoo May Partner With AOL To Escape Microsoft

Wondering what's next after the news that Yahoo apparently plans to reject Microsoft's takeover offer? The Times Of London reports Yahoo will restart merger talks with AOL. Below, more about the news along with some back history on AOL in search and why a Yahoo-AOL partnership might indeed be a compelling way to convince Yahoo shareholders to resist Microsoft. From the article: It is understood that Yahoo! and its team of advisers from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, the US investment banks, have spent the past week evaluating possible tie-ups with media and technology firms that woul [...]


IAC Troubles, Ask.com, And Post-Yahoo Search Share

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both report on the legal battle for control of IAC's board and thus the company itself. It's not pretty, and IAC claims that it's impeding the company's ability to effectively operate. The legal fight arguably prevents IAC from making any sort of overture (so to speak) toward Yahoo, although it's a much smaller company ($7.4 billion vs. $38 billion). Another issue to consider is the potential impact on Ask.com of a post-Micro-Hoo search landscape. Ask and AOL jockey back and forth for the number four and five positions in the search rankings. A com [...]


Byzantine Legal Fight For Control Of Ask.com Parent IAC

The Wall Street Journal covers the "open warfare" between IAC CEO Barry Diller and Liberty Media, one of its largest backers and investors. Liberty Chairman John Malone has grown increasingly frustrated with IAC's financial and stock performance and Diller himself. Diller has control of the company through a Byzantine procedural agreement that allows him to vote Liberty Media's shares by proxy. This week Liberty tried an equally arcane legal maneuver to circumvent the agreement and oust Diller. The volume of the legal squabble is likely to increase as IAC reorganizes. It could also represent [...]


Liberty Media Corporation Bought 14 Million Shares In IAC

Stake Is Bought in IAC/InterActiveCorp from the New York Times reports Liberty Media Corporation purchased an additional 14 million shares in IAC/Interactive Corp, the parent company of Ask.com. The 14 million shares came out to about $339.5 million, but have given Liberty Media Corporation about a 30 percent stake in IAC. Liberty Media Corporation purchased the shares to take advantage of the "recent decline in the stock price of IAC," said the New York Times. In somewhat related news, What Advice Would Dr. Phil Have for Ask.Com? from the NY Times blog looks at recent management changes a [...]


A Search Product CEO – Necessary To Win The Search Engine Game?

With Jim Lanzone being replaced as Ask.com's CEO, I thought it time to do a piece that's been banging about in my head. Do successful search companies have to have CEOs or top execs who "grew up" from the search product side? The jury is probably still out, but it's interesting to look back at each of the major players and understand where those in charge have come from. Google No question -- both Google co-presidents Larry Page and Sergey Brin are search product folks. They literally built the first version of Google and were very involved with how the search engine developed in G [...]


Ask.com Plans On China Expansion

IAC Looks to Expand Web Presence in China from the Wall Street Journal reports Ask.com is planning on coming to China within two years. Barry Diller said he plans on spending $100 million to bring Ask.com to China. Diller told the Wall Street Journal, "We've certainly got enough capital to do damage," and admitted there is risk to such an undertaking. Diller plans on replicating the strategy they used to expand in the European markets with this China expansion. [...]


Diller On Ask’s Growth, Facebook, & Buying AOL

Barry Diller to Time Warner: Name Your Price for AOL from AdAge has a Q&A session with Barry Diller, the CEO of IAC, the parent company of Ask.com. Diller was asked about the split up of IAC into five business units, his thoughts on the growth of the Internet, Facebook's valuation, if he would like to buy AOL, and Ask.com's growth since they bought the company. In response to a question on the Internet's growth, Diller said, "But more than any media sector, I think the Internet will hold up." Later on, Diller says Facebook is much more than a "phonebook," saying "you get an awful lot of st [...]


IAC To Split Up, Extends Google Ad Deal Worth $3.5+ Billion

Today is a big day for IAC, Ask.com's parent company. First they announce they are breaking the company into five publicly traded entities, and then they announce they have extended their search ad deal with Google. Let's first talk about IAC extending the search ad deal with Google. Google's sponsored listings will power the search ads on IAC's Internet properties, including Ask.com. Yes, Ask.com does have their own ASL program, but Google fulfills much of the ads with their AdWords inventory. Earlier this year, there was question if Google would renew the deal with Ask. This deal is w [...]


Ask.com Teams With Dell To Create Custom Servers That Save Energy

Ask.com has bespoke answer for cutting server power usage from ComputerWorld reports Ask.com has contracted Dell four months ago to build out customized servers around the software applications they have built. This helps Ask.com "cut server power usage by 30%" of a typical server, said Mark Stockford, the senior vice president of operations at the Ask.com. Not only does it save power consumption, the customized servers also perform better and cost less than typical servers. Dell launched this special program for customers who purchase 1,000 servers each quarter. Ask.com has not specified [...]


Ask.com Helps IAC Earn 40% Increase In Q3 2007 Media Revenue

IAC Reports Q3 Results from CNNMoney reports that IAC saw a 4.2% decline in net income year over year. Here is IAC's press release for the third-quarter numbers this year. But if you pull out Ask.com, IAC's search engine, which is part of IAC's Media & Advertising group, you will see that sector saw an increase of 40% in revenue and a positive net this past quarter. In Q3 2007, the Media & Advertising group saw revenues of $189.8 million up from $135.5 million in Q3 2006, plus operating income this past quarter was $15.4 million, up from a loss of $2.1 million last year. The Media & Adver [...]


Will Google Renew Ad Deal With Ask.com?

Ask.com Ad Pact With Google Ends Soon from CNNMoney.com covers how the deal for Ask.com to carry Google's paid listings expires at the end of this year and suggests Ask.com has more to lose than Google by not renewing it. Let's break down some of those numbers from the story: In the second quarter, Google earned $997 million from ads on "partner sites." Barry Diller of IACI said that his Ask.com accounted for 10% of Google's partner site revenue. That means Ask.com should have brought in almost $100 million of that for Google. Google's own properties earned them $1.43 billion. That is a s [...]


IAC Reports Q2 Earnings, Ask.com Revenue Down On A Per Query Basis

Ask.com's parent company, IAC, released their second quarter earnings statement today. Ask.com is bundled into the "Media & Advertising" category, which overall reported higher revenue than the previous year by 33%. However, Ask.com realized a "lower revenue per query since the launch" of Ask 3D in June. Why? Because the new interface requires less clicks to find what you are looking for, said IAC. Ask.com did notice a "higher frequency and retention," they said. Find the full release here. Note From Danny: I'm still scratching my head at that explanation. If Ask 3D is better in relevanc [...]


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