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IAC Appoints Jim Lanzone Chief Executive Officer of

On Saturday, we reported Steve Berkowitz’s move from to Microsoft. At the time, I offered that “Jim Lanzone is more than capable to take over”. And indeed IAC sees the same value in Jim, today naming him to CEO of

“Jim is one of the most respected leaders in the search industry, having been principally responsible every day for the turnaround of the Ask product and brand over the past several years,” said Doug Lebda, IAC President and Chief Operating Officer. “With his vision for the future and successful track record for driving the business, he has been and will be the ideal leader for the next stage of the company’s growth.”

Congratulations Jim, this is very much deserved! :-)

Ask and Ask Again. You’ll Probably Get the Same Old Answer

ask logoWell, it must be that time of year. You know when the leaves change colors and Ask changes their design? At some point they have to settle on something. They are actually starting to act like your “different” cousin who shows up at family functions with a new body piercing and a bad attitude just for shock value. You pay attention for a minute then you realize that it’s actually really sad that she doesn’t get it. is starting to feel that way in the realm of search engines. Once full of promise and ready to take on the big boys of search (which is now just one big boy and Ask partners with them anyway; dare to guess who?) they are now becoming a bit of a search sideshow. In today’s WSJ we learn that a new and improved is on the horizon (see screenshot). There are two points that are interesting here. First is Barry Diller’s spin on this redesign: Launches Mobile Optimized Search has launched Ask Mobile Search, a web search service aimed at cell phone users, according to CNET.

Ask Mobile Search features navigation shortcuts to minimize keystrokes and provides direct access to key search categories on the home page, like directions, image search, business listings, maps and weather.

Yahoo, Google and MSN have all recently launched mobile search options. plans to offer the service without ads – at least for the time-being.

And You Thought the US Ads Were Strange!

We’ve covered’s strange US television commercials, but they can’t compete with the utter weirdness of their UK cousins.

The Ask spots feature the four characters from the original campaign, plus one of the tallest men in the UK, a dog, and a rhesus monkey, the latter of whom proved to be extremely difficult to work with. “We discovered on the shoot that he hates women,” Sarah quipped,. The monkey eventually had to be shot in a separate room and combined into the picture using split-screen.

One spot, promoting Smart Answers, featured a combined sort of human-dog-person. You’ll have to see the ad to understand. Another, using both tallest British-born man Neil Fingleton and the monkey, promotes all the features of our results page: left rail search suggestions, right-rail smart content, and more.

Ask Takes Google to Task on Privacy

Forget the fact that privacy watchdogs are all over Google threatening legal action for not linking prominently to their privacy policy—now other search companies are out to steal their bacon. is circulating news that they’re now prominently linking to their privacy policy.

From the email:

At Ask, we take our commitment to user privacy and data protection very seriously. We’ve demonstrated this not just through words, but through deeds and actions. We were the first major search company to announce that we would be placing privacy tools directly in the hands of our users, as we said we would do in July 2007. Then, we did it: we launched AskEraser in December 2007. Ask remains the only major search company to develop and deploy a privacy protection tool that that empowers web users to make decisions as to data retention by Ask. The AskEraser tool is right there on our homepage, a one-step mechanism to deleting a users’ search data from servers.

Ask Asks If the Human Element Will Help Its Search Business

Ask has always been the red-headed stepchild of the search industry. It’s always lurking in the shadows as the #4 search engine and usually gets a mention in search share only if there was significant up or down movement. Accounting has the Big 4 but search only has the Big 3 which is soon to be the Big 2 ½ or something once bing and Yahoo fully consummate their relationship. Ask is usually not included in those talks but is making changes to differentiate itself and hopefully make more of a splash in that area. The key to that hope: good ol’ fashioned human beings!

The Ask blog reports

Something Does Right has good news sprouting up everywhere, it seems. Their new feature-heavy, offensive-content-free commercial premiered last week and now comes the news that their new interface, Ask 3D, is useful!

MediaPost reports
today on comScore data that indicates that nearly 10% of Ask’s 50 million searchers refine their searches using the left column related searches and zoom related searches. Those 5 million unique visitors represent nearly 3% of the total Internet population. With Ask’s market share hovering around 4%, marked loyalty to Ask’s interface could definitely impact their dominance—the MediaPost article even addresses the possibility of eclipsing MSN.

More good news in the MediaPost article: independent studies show that Ask’s new interface enhances their customer satisfaction: