Why, it’s Looksmart, it looks like. Good for them, to gain such a strong new partner. How did I determine this? Well, someone pointed me to a sub only article that Danny wrote (this link will take you to the free version) about the Ask deal, in which he reported that some of the new platform is licensed from a third party, which he speculates might be Miva:
Ask Jeeves says it built the technology internally for its new program but also licensed some parts from a third-party vendor that it won’t name. Why not name if the other vendor was Miva, for example? It’s a likely candidate in having long-standing technology in the area and a licensing program.
“A lot of the reason we don’t want to talk about our partner is that we developed a lot of this in house. A big piece of it is not from the partner. We’re going to leverage off the IP [intellectual property] of the organization that we have for search,” Gardi said.
But I got a tip to check out the results on some popular terms at Ask, and lordy be, turns out that some of the ads are being served by Looksmart. Take a look for yourself. This is a query for “e-loan.” The first “sponsored” result – E-Loan – gives this URL:
Note the part I bolded….it’s clear that Ask and Looksmart are sharing APIs, and probably more.
That might explain why Ask is reticent to talk about who their third party partner is – Looksmart was tarred with a lot of crappy traffic and poor results over the past few years, and has been on life support since it lost the Microsoft account over a year ago. But I recently spoke with Looksmart CEO David Hills (no, he was not my source…), who came in last year to turn the company around. He had a very clear eyed view of his company’s problems, and a very practical approach to to solving them: get rid of the fraud and the crap, and focus on partnering. Looks like Ask might be his first big deal.