Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ask’s Small Search Share = Garugantuan Ad

This one’s pretty straightforward: IAC’s Ask.com search engine has struggled for years to gain traction against the likes of Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) without success. It now commands a whopping 3.8 percent of the U.S. market according to comScore (SCOR). IAC (IACI) doesn’t break out revenue for the search engine, but said it declined in the most recent quarter.

One way to fix that: Turn the entire homepage into a giant ad. Like this one for Fox’s newest iteration of “Night At The Museum” (click to enlarge):

night-at-the-museum

Web sites like News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace have been turning their homepages into giant ads for quite some time, and in some cases it’s been very effective. But as far as I know, this is the first time a search engine has tried it. I’ve got a query (get it?) into the Ask folks and will report back when I hear from them.

UPDATE: Ask spokesguy Nicholas Graham tells me that this isn’t the first time the search engine has offered up its homepage for takeovers. Ask has done it a couple times for charitable causes and it did the same thing last November for “Quantum of Solace,” the most recent James Bond flick. In the case of both that movie and the new “Night at the Museum,” Ask doesn’t get paid for the ad–instead, it gets an in-kind payment via mentions in the films.

Here’s a screenshot of the last takeover Ask did, in April, for Autism Speaks. In that case, the takeover ads also featured hot spots (the boxed question marks) that turned into questions when users moused over them (click to enlarge).

skin_autismspeaks_v02c


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work