Although not always the answer you want, and certainly not for Ask.com. After failing to make a success in the search category, Ask.com has decided to return to its roots and become a question-and-answer service, a move that has to be a major ego and financial blow to Barry Diller, who paid $1.85 billion for Ask.com five years ago.
Ask.com started out life as “Ask Jeeves,” a question-and-answer search engine, but morphing into a real search engine involved time, staff, and major costs to maintain the required search index of billions and billions of pages. Google created an algorithmic search that met and sometimes even exceeded consumer expectations for the Ideal search engine, and is a hard act to follow. So the move back to a Q&A platform ameliorates those issues and changes the expectation paradigm for the platform.
Positioned as a search engine, Ask.com ranked 5th (of 8 brands, with Google and Bing tied for 1st) in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, and 306th (of 501) in our Loyalty Leaders List. As these numbers correlate very highly with positive, in-market behavior, it’s not surprising that their market share has declined – currently to about 2% – and the point where competing in search isn’t really a reasonable question to ask of Ask.
But while Q&A services have become more accessible, there is currently no one clear leader. There are, for example, offerings from Answers.com, Cha-Cha, and Formspring. And Google has acquired Aardvark to do that for them. Even social networking sites like Facebook offer Q&A services.
Matthew 7:7 reads “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find,” but for consumers hot-wired to the Internet, if you can’t meet expectations for their category Ideal you are likely to get more questions than answers, especially from the accounting department.
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