Ask.com goes for revamp — but will it work?

October 6, 2008

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Barry Diller is not backing down. The media mogul’s IAC/InterActiveCorp has once again relaunched its Ask.com search engine — aiming to increase its share of the lucrative Web search market.

Ask.com Chief Executive Officer Jim Safka told Reuters in an interview  that the revamped site — with its faster, better searches — would keep customers coming back for more. He said early tests showed a 16 percent increase in the rate at which customers returned to the search page.

The problem is that Ask.com has a long way to go. Google is the dominant Web search service in the United States, growing in August to more than 63 percent market share, according comScore, a Web audience measurement firm. Yahoo was second with a fall to 19.6 percent share and Microsoft dipped to 8.3 percent. Ask was fourth, growing slightly to 4.8 percent.

And, as the Wall Street Journal points out, this isn’t Ask’s first effort at redesign:

IAC first shifted away from the hallmarks of Ask Jeeves, which was known for answering search queries posed as questions. Then last year Ask tried again with the tech-savvy redesign, Ask3D.

Prior efforts haven’t lifted Ask above a minor competitor in the internet search business.

Still, Safka makes this effort sound promising. Reuters reports that “if a user searches for ‘What’s on TV tonight?’ the results will bring up licensed TV listing results for the user’s local cable operator based on their IP address or if the user types in a local zip code.”

Ask.com efforts come at a crucial time — the search market is in flux with all the major players having talked to one another about various partnerships and deals. If only Ask.com could tell us what the search market will look like a year from now… 

Keep an eye on: 

  • The principals behind DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures sealed their parting of ways on Sunday, allowing the DreamWorks studio to tie up with Reliance ADA Group of India to start a new film company (Reuters)
  • EBay Inc plans to cut its workforce by 10 percent and expects to exceed its third-quarter earnings forecast (Reuters)
  • Netflix Inc., the online DVD rental company, said its fourth quarter revenue and subscriber figures would fall short of expectations (Reuters)

(Reuters photo of Barry Diller)

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