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Ask.com heading back to the future

What do you do when you're the number four or five player in search with a single-digit share? Hopefully something different -- and compelling.

That's what the folks at Ask.com have in mind. Actually their strategy is both different and a return to the company's roots when it started out as AskJeeves.

"Search and keywords are the low-hanging fruit. When you think about what people want it's something more natural," Ask.com's president Doug Leeds told me in a recent briefing on the company's direction.

That more natural approach is to ask a question, the very foundation the company (then AskJeeves complete with butler logo) was founded on.

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"We are Ask.com and we were popularized as a question/answer service. It's silly to run away from that brand, we should be embracing it," said Leeds who adds technology advances have made it a lot easier to provide a broad range of consistent, relevant answers to English language queries than when the company started.

Leeds claims there's a "psychographic need" to get an answer to a question. "I don't want to search the Web, I want you (the search engine) to do that," he said.

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