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SearchBiz: Mehdi Moves Up At Microsoft; Should MSFT learn from Ask?; Top 25 People On The Web; Google & The NSA
With Microsoft’s current advertising campaign still leaving many people shaking their heads in wonder, TechCrunch has an idea: follow the lead of Ask.com. Jason Kincaid confesses that Ask’s ad — the one that shows a young woman “exercising” (ahem) on a stripper pole in her house — actually made him curious enough to click through and visit Ask.com.
He goes on to mention that the sexy ad didn’t change his opinion of Ask.com as a search engine:
The ad may tell me nothing about the site’s technology or give me any reason to use it over Google, but it worked – I obediently ventured over to Ask.com to see if they had somehow managed to make search sexy (they didn’t).
Our own Danny Sullivan points out in the comments that search industry history is littered with creative ads from search engines that didn’t make it (Excite, Lycos, HotBot).
In other (less titillating) Microsoft news, Kara Swisher reports that Yusuf Mehdi is now in charge of several pieces of the company’s online portfolio, including “marketing, online audience business development and product management for MSN and the search properties.” Swisher adds that Microsoft is still trying to find a replacement for Kevin Johnson, who left in July and was the overall head of the online properties.
And one last piece of Microsoft news: CEO Steve Ballmer was in Norway today to announce the company’s plans to set up shop in that country. Microsoft will establish its enterprise search headquarters in Oslo, the home of Fast Search & Transfer — the company Microsoft bought earlier this year. Why did they buy Fast Search? Ballmer told the media that his company was “always getting beaten by Fast,” so they decided to buy them. (If you run a search company, consider that a warning.)
Speaking of Steve Ballmer, he heads up BusinessWeek‘s list of the Top 25 Most Influential People on the Web. Google’s Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt also make an appearance, as do Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Craig Newmark of craigslist, Twitter’s Evan Williams, and others.
And finally, if you’ve been wondering about potential connections between Google and the National Security Administration (NSA), you’re not alone. On Google Blogoscoped, Philipp Lenssen writes about a journalist’s request to learn more about Google and the NSA via a Freedom of Information Act request. It turns out the only connection this request uncovered is that the NSA spent about $2 million on four Google search appliances, a two-year replacement warranty, and 100 hours of consulting. (Dear NSA: Never buy the warranty.)