Ask/ Lycos Deal Is No Laughing Matter

It was announced yesterday that Lycos had paired up with to deliver its Web, Image and Zoom Related search, as well as its sponsored listings. So far the industry reaction has consisted of a lot of laughs, disinterest and badly executed math equations. But this deal isn’t as funny as you think, in fact, it’s actually pretty smart.

While perhaps you haven’t heard the name Lycos since the early ’90s, more than 25.7 million unique visitors conducted a total of 125 million searches in September. Believe it or not, Lycos is the fifth most popular Internet portal in the United States and ranked as a top 20 US Web property. Lycos isn’t as dead as everybody thinks it is.

Another thing, by signing this deal, takes valuable search property away from both Microsoft and Google. Prior to this deal Lycos’ Web and Image search results were pulled from Windows Live Search and its PPC ads were delivered by Google’s. Now it’s all Ask’s domain. Smart.

This deal will increase Ask’s exposure throughout the Lycos Network properties and perhaps even give it some legitimacy in the market. After all, Ask has to be doing something right for Lycos to leave Google and Microsoft behind.

A Lycos spokesperson told MediaPost that it was Ask’s unique set of features that set it apart from the competition.

“For its part, Lycos said that it switched to because it provides better overall search technology–including its Zoom feature, which offers suggestions to expand or narrow a search query. In recent months, Lycos has taken steps to expand its video offerings, including partnerships to add video search and a movie trailer site.”

Lycos will look to Ask to help them strengthen their brand and make the transition into video.

I think this is a smart deal for both Ask and Lycos. Lycos gets more exposure from the Ask brand and, I imagine, someone more excited to be paired with them than Google and Microsoft were. Ask gets to increase its market share in both search and PPC, while also decreasing that of its competitors, mostly notably from Microsoft who is already struggling. They also get increased branding, as the Ask logo will be displayed on the Lycos homepage, as well as in several places on their SERP.

I think the reason this deal has been met by a lot of chuckles is because everyone expects Ask to sit on its laurels like Yahoo! and Microsoft seem apt to do. They expect them to roll over and play dead while Google eats up all remaining market share. But Ask isn’t going to do that. Instead, they’re making deals that are smart for them, seizing opportunities, and are actually taking market share away from competitors. That’s nothing to laugh at.

After releasing promising third quarter results this week, results that showed Ask increasing revenue, Barry Diller said his goal is to have Ask reach 10 percent of the market share. Currently they are at 5.8 percent. It will be a long way to 10, but if this Lycos deal is part of Barry’s plan to build that “interactive conglomerate” he keeps talking about, it may be doable.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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