With Ask.com market share hovering below the 1% mark both globally and domestically, the company has been attempting to gain market share in the competitive world of Search Engines. And how has Ask.com decided to do this? By providing better quality content on search result? How about revamping their website to be more pleasing? Surely it involved optimizing the user experience with their product—right? No, unfortunately, the company’s attempts lay well below any reasonable assumptions to improve their product. Instead, they are trying to “gain” market share by buying search clicks on Google.
Basically, instead of running marketing campaigns or using social media to gain shares and spread word about their failing search engine, Ask has decided that acquiring new traffic from buying clicks on Google is a better way to approach this. Not only does this lack any creativity or cleverness—it’s downright lazy.
What are the core problems with this plan might you ask? One, Ask has done very little as a company to actually improve their product. Basically, instead of improving things such as their search algorithms, interfaces and user experience, the company is deciding to band-aid the problem, overlooking the core issues and start shooting in the dark. It sounds that based on all the marketing analysis and focus groups it’s still hard for them to understand why they are failing.
Two, lets say as a Google user you accidentally clicked on link Ask.com purchased for your search and got forwarded to Ask.com’s list of search results for further selections. At that point the company hopes that you will be so thrilled with your experience on their website that you will switch your browser preference. Therein lies the same problem—their unimproved product still won’t get users to stick around. The more likely outcome is that as a user who just got forwarded from their preferred Google search engine to a different set of results will actually get more frustrated with this experience and dislike Ask.com and even more.
The key to improving any product should start at the core of the problem. Ask should ask themselves the obvious, but hard to swallow, questions, like “what do users enjoy about other popular search engines such as Google”. The answers will be along the lines of: the quality of search results, less clutter on the site, pleasing design and actual consideration of user experience. It seems that if the company is willing to spend a large amount of money on purchasing clicks to drive users to their product, a better place for that investment would be to better their product and only then trying to convert users to something worth considering.