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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article, "Ask Searches for Answer to Luring New Users" By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO, January 25, 2008; Page B1.
Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp has spent $140 million since 2005 asking people to choose Ask.com as their search engine. It has asked on TV with monkeys. It has asked on billboards without monkeys, but with nerdy computer lingo. And it has asked in the U.K. with neither monkeys nor nerds, but with a plea for what it touted as a greater social good.
No matter how it has asked, though, Ask has had no real success luring visitors from rivals like Google Inc. Ask's market share hasn't grown in the past couple of years while Google, which spends relatively little on advertising, has seen its dominance increase.
Even so, Mr. Diller this month named a marketing veteran, Jim Safka, to take the helm of Ask.com. The 39-year-old former chief executive of IAC's Match.com plans to use the same kind of data-driven approach he employed to revive the Internet dating site. After poring over subscriber logs, the service targeted older daters through TV campaigns, including one starring celebrity therapist Dr. Phil McGraw. Revenues and profits rose.
"The first step is figuring out who uses Ask today and what they use it for," Mr. Safka says. "We are not going to take wild swings."