IAC/Ask Jeeves Implications

 Admin    24 Mar
 None    Search Engines

by Rob Sullivan

by Rob Sullivan

By now you are well aware that Ask Jeeves has been bought by InterActiveCorp - A company which has been very active in the past.

We've been watching them for some time now and knew that an acquisition such as this was around the corner.

If you look at IAC's current holdings you would know that about the only place they aren't in the web is search. The AskJeeves purchase puts them firmly in the search marketplace. But what does this mean to you and I - the average searcher? Let me give you some ideas.

For one, Google Adwords will probably disappear from the Ask pages. I'm not sure when - but IAC has ways of serving their own ads.

You will probably see more commercialization of the Ask site as IAC begins to integrate more of its own offerings into the site. In fact you may see Ask move towards more of a portal framework because of the wide variety of IAC products. the key here will be how IAC can make money from Ask.

IAC, in case you didn''t already know, has properties in local search (Citysearch.com), travel and directions (Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com and Reserveamerica.com to name just a few), event tickets (Ticketmaster.com), dating services such as Match.com, and even financial services such as Lendingtree.com and RealEstate.com.

As you can see, many of the ingredients needed to compete with the likes of Yahoo! MSN and AOL.

The question now becomes, will they? Will IAC try to compete with the much larger sites that likely have deeper pockets?

I would think that they would try to lock up the 2nd tier market by linking all these sites and services together. They may even make a move to become 1st tier, although that's probably still a couple years away.

I think they got a sweet deal with Ask. Ask has some of the best technology in terms of ranking sites. Their HITS algorithm is years ahead of the competition, and Teoma is a very effective crawler. Not to mention that Ask has been busily building up it's web presence with acqusitions like Excite.

Ask's primary problem has been that they've been trying to make a go of it without the financial resources of the Yahoo!'s and MSN's of the search world. It's been an uphill battle for them for over 2 years. Yet they have survived and even prospered.

Now with the IAC acquisition, we should see Ask grow more, and faster. And when you consider what ASK brings to the table (Teoma, Bloglines, Excite and so on) you begin to see the potential of such a search property.

I think over time you will see that Ask search gets rolled throughout the other IAC properties. In other words, the Ask/Teoma search technology will form the backend of most of the web properties that IAC has. We probably won't see a portal from them for a year or so, but I think it will happen.

And if Ask does in fact become the default search for all of the IAC properties then Ask definitely will have a firm 4th spot among top search engines, in terms of reach.

In the short term, as I mentioned above, you will probably see AdWords replaced by IAC technology. You may also see Ask appearing in more places, such as Expedia.com and Hotels.com. I also think we will see Ask's index grow pretty substantially over the next year as it ramps up to compete.

In the mid term, we might begin to see more integration of the IAC properties, perhaps around a centralized home page (like MSN and Yahoo use).

Long term, I expect IAC to continue to grow and acquire relevant technologies. As new web properties become ''hot'' I'm sure we'll see IAC in there, busy buying them.

Rob Sullivan
Production Manager

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