Ask Jeeves Buys Trustic’s Bloglines

NEW YORK Ask Jeeves said it bought Trustic, owner of the Bloglines service for publishing and searching news-syndication feeds.

The purchase brings Ask Jeeves, an Oakland, Calif.-based search company, one of the leading providers of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) readers, which let users organize syndicated Web content like blog entries and news headlines. Bloglines, founded in 2003, also has an index of more than 280 million Web content elements, including news feeds, blog articles, video and audio.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The addition of the popular RSS reader and search capability could help Ask Jeeves establish more visitor loyalty. The search engine released a personalized search application in September 2004 and desktop search two months later in attempts to tie users more closely to its site, rather than search giants like Google and Yahoo.

Ask Jeeves previously tried to gain ground through acquisition. It paid $343 million last March to acquire Interactive Search Holdings, which published search sites iWon and My Way. Still, Ask Jeeves’ share of the search market is less than 6 percent, compared to 34 percent for Google and 32 percent for Yahoo, according to ComScore Networks. Ask Jeeves reported a $17.1 million profit on $86.1 million in sales last quarter, mostly through clicks on Google text ads displayed next to Ask Jeeves search results.

Since Google acquired blog publisher Pyra Labs in February 2003, search companies have added blog-related tools to their sites. Microsoft released MSN Spaces, its blog-publishing software, in December 2004. MSN and Yahoo both offer free RSS readers.

Blogs have emerged as key distribution outlets for Google’s AdSense for Content service, which places targeted text ads on Web pages. Some paid listings services, like Kanoodle and Yahoo’s Overture Services, have experimented with including ads in RSS feeds.

Ask Jeeves said Redwood City, Calif.-based Bloglines would continue to operate as an independent brand and offer its services for free. Bloglines CEO Mark Fletcher will join Ask Jeeves as vice president and general manager of Bloglines. Ask Jeeves said it would incorporate Bloglines in its search properties and use its Teoma search technology to improve Bloglines’ search capability.