Ask Jeeves Drops Paid-Inclusion Searches

NEW YORK Ask Jeeves this week revealed its decision to eliminate its paid-inclusion search program.

The Emeryville, Calif., company’s 18-month-old Insight Express offering lets sites submit XML feeds of their Web pages for inclusion in the search engine’s results in return for a cost-per-click payment.

Ask Jeeves vice president of product management Jim Lanzone said the choice was made because mixing paid and unpaid content at times negatively influenced the relevancy of search results. He added that dropping the program would not have a material impact on the company’s overall revenue.

The search engine’s announcement comes the same week Yahoo! introduced its version of a paid-inclusion search program [IQ Daily Briefing, March 2].

Lanzone stressed that Ask Jeeves will continue to focus on other search-related ad offerings, such as paid-placement listings and branded-response listings, which integrate an advertiser’s graphics with relevant content.

Ask Jeeves is focusing on increasing its share in the search market, which is dominated by competitors like Google and Yahoo!, as evidenced by yesterday’s announcement that it plans to buy Interactive Search Holdings in a $343 million stock-and-cash transaction [IQ Daily Briefing, March 4]. The acquisition, expected to close at the end of the second quarter, will add companies like iWon and Excite to its portfolio.