Remember the good ol’ days? Dot-com mania, and a butler for a mascot? Remember Ask Jeeves, 1996?
The poor guy has been put through a number of makeovers. Yet Ask.com still holds its place as the perennial fourth- or fifth-ranked search engine, regardless of how good or bad the “next great idea” was. Here are some of Ask.com’s major business or marketing strategy initiatives over the past few years:
- Acquired by Barry Diller’s IAC
- Fired the butler, became simply “Ask”
- Launched major TV ad campaign
- Launched major revisions to page layout (since done away with)
- Missed out on the opportunity to be spun from IAC
- Declared it was becoming a “women’s search engine”
- Days later, undeclared women’s search engine idea
- Added in Dictionary.com
- Rolled out the 11th version of the site
Through all these travails, up and down, back and forth, Ask.com somehow hangs on to 4.5% of the search audience, according to comScore and other sources. Not bad, considering Google’s dominant share continues to increase every quarter, seemingly at the expense of Yahoo.
There’s a pony in there somewhere, obviously, most likely technology based. Ask.com was early with innovations we now recognize as natural language search and universal results display, for example. Barry Diller seems happy with the pace of progress, and his market share…even while pundits have been writing off Ask.com for at least the past 3 years.
Nothing lasts forever, of course. That 4.5% share can only go in one direction (unless Ask.com pulls another technology trick out of its bag).
So why aren’t any of these being discussed?
- Barry Diller buys Yahoo?
- Yahoo buys Ask.com?
- Barry Diller buys AOL?
- Steve Ballmer buys Ask.com?
WWBD. What Would (Will) Barry Do?
What Would the Butler Do?