Only days after my March 3rd interview with Jim Lanzone, VP of Product Management, AskJeeves announced its plan to purchase Interactive Search Holdings (ISH). As a result of this purchase AskJeeves acquired a diverse set of sites such as: Excite.com, MyWay.com, MySearch.com, MyWebSearch.com and iWon.com. Now you may have heard of these sites before but it is difficult to say just how popular a site is just from basic brand awareness. According to an AskJeeves press release, however, ISH was the 9th most visited web property in December 2003.
Where does this leave AskJeeves? At the moment none of the sites exclusively utilize Teoma technology; will they be converting each platform on each site to the Teoma engine? According to AskJeeves CEO Steve Berkowitz his long term goal is “to have 50% of the web searching with Teoma”, so it is a safe bet that you will soon see more and more Teoma results appearing. As for Excite, at the moment the veteran portal is a meta search engine that combines results from Google, Yahoo, AskJeeves, About, Overture and Teoma; meaning a minimum 1/3 of the results are from their own systems. The other “My…” group of sites are all providing multiple engine data as well.
In short, it appears AskJeeves is playing their familiar game of inches by comfortably insinuating their presence into our lives. If their expansionist philosophy is any indication, I think we can safely say we have discovered a major element of their marketing plan; small but steady steps with a realistic goal of obtaining 50% of the marketplace. This appears to be a smart positioning technique which sticks to the safe and smart approach that many investors will appreciate.
Expect to see much more from this competitor in the near future including another set of buyouts in early 2005.
Press Note: Not so sure about Ask’s marketing strategy? AskJeeves presented first quarter financial results showing 73% growth over the same quarter in 2003! View the AskJeeves Press Release here(link no longer active).