Ask.com Differentiates Its Search, Decreases Ads

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NEW YORK -- After doing away with its butler logo, Ask.com unveiled its revamped Web search during yesterday's Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo.


The search engine sent the Jeeves butler logo packing last week, taking another step toward rebranding the IAC/InterActive Corp.-owned engine as Ask.com.


In his keynote at Search Engine Strategies, IAC/InterActive Corp. chairman Barry Diller admitted that competing with market share leaders Google and Yahoo is challenging but that the company aims to Ask.com itself.


"We're an alternative to the three networks," he said. "Differentiation is what we're trying to do."


Though the Ask.com front page now has a cleaner look similar to Google's home page, it also contains differentiating factors such as a toolbar with Ask's search tools -- including a new Maps service -- on the right side of the page.


Also notably limited in the Ask.com sponsored results are shaded ads -- only one or two -- placed below the top sponsored result. Ask.com proclaims that it "now has the fewest ads of any major search destination," according to a statement from the engine.


It is also the only search engine to place editorial results above ads, the statement said.


Ask.com also unveiled a Web desktop search, in addition to its standalone desktop search, that lets users access files and e-mails through their Web browser.


Meanwhile, the Maps service differs from Google's popular satellite view of maps, Google Earth, by offering aerial views, which give users closer resolution than satellite views, said Jim Lanzone, general manager, Ask.com U.S.


Despite the added bells and whistles, Diller realizes that it will take time for people to switch from other engines to Ask.com.


"You've got to be in it for the long haul," he said. "You can't think you're going to do some ad campaign and get some instant reaction."


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