Keynote Conversation With Jim Lanzone, Ask.com – SES San Jose

Chris Sherman is interviewing Jim Lanzone from Ask in the first of two keynotes that are being conducted at this years Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. Interesting takeaways I got out of this conversation are as follows:

When asked if Jim is seeing any increases in market share, he says that too much emphasis is place on market share compared to your personal growth.

Chris asked how they feel about Google in which Jim replied that they are Google’s largest search partner. They are not necessarily trying to topple them but work with them. So in other words, they are friends.

Regarding Ask’s near death experience during the dot com meltdown, Chris is curious as to what steps they took to survive. Jim replies that they narrowed the focus because at the time they were giving editorial answers to queries as well as cleaned up the ads that were all over the place. They also acquire Teoma which gave them a better search platform.

Regarding privacy, Chris mentions Ask Eraser and questions where Ask balances privacy issue. Jim is surprised at the amount of publicity it received. He then describes that they decided to give people a choice whether they wanted search information retained or not. If not, it is simply erased in short order. Because it doesn’t exist, it can never be subpoenaed.

If Ask’s goal was market share, then they wouldn’t have launched Ask 3D. For example, image search is down according to Comscore because users are not finding images on the first page. This is true of everything else the way Ask is laid out – they are find what they want on the first set of results without having to dig deeper.

Chris asked why advertisers would choose Ask when they can go with Google and get same exposure. Jim replied that Ask ads get better placement. Advertisers also have direct access to the data. Finally they have the opportunity to take advantage of Ask’s contextual network.

Ask’s future goals for mobile include working to bring “the web” to mobile – being able to look up baseball stats or book a hotel, in other words do everything you can now do via computer through your mobile phone.

Future plans for personalization include enhancing the “value” of the results. It has to be made simpler because most people are not going to take the time to “read the instructions” on how to personalize their pages.

Jim says they are rebuilding the “farm” because typically their data is not as fresh (amen) as the others. This is good news because it typically take forever to get change you make to web pages such as basic SEO application, to show up in Ask’s results.

What does Jim see for the future of the Internet? A flood of new data – video, audio, images, etc. Search has become much more of a “on demand” function. They will expect that one white box to deliver whatever they are looking for.

To get more in depth coverage of everything that was said, check out Tamar Weinburg’s coverage at Search Engine Roundtable.

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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