Ask Jeeves Creates New Sales Unit

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Ask Jeeves formed a new advertising sales division, combining its own sales efforts with those of recently acquired Interactive Search Holdings.


AJinteractive's 60-person sales force will sell online marketing packages for search, brand advertising and direct marketing. Jim Diaz, former senior vice president of sales and business development at Ask Jeeves, will head the division. Its ad sales will complement the revenue the Emeryville, CA, company receives from Google's paid search listings, which account for more than two-thirds of Ask Jeeves' sales.


AJinteractive will sell Ask Jeeves' branded response unit, a graphical search listing; banner ads and rich media for portal properties iWon and Excite; banner ads for the MaxOnline ad network; and e-mail and lead-generation programs through the registration process on Ask Jeeves' portals. Ask Jeeves' flagship site, Ask.com, does not show graphical advertising, other than the branded response unit.


With its March 2004 deal to acquire ISH, Ask Jeeves greatly expanded its reach, adding portals and an online ad network. The company now draws more than 11.5 million visitors monthly, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.


"We now have the scale to have Jeeves invest to attract more advertisers," Diaz said. "It puts us in the position to be able to compete against these larger players."


He said AJinteractive would be able to grow from its base of 800 to 1,000 advertiser relationships by offering marketers a single point of contact for various needs, from lead generation to brand building to custom promotions.


"I'd like to see us grow as a percentage of revenue of Ask Jeeves over time," he said. "Does that mean we have to take money away from Google on the search pages? We don't have to do that at all."


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