RealTime IT News

Lycos Asks Jeeves

Internet portal Lycos has jettisoned Yahoo's Inktomi search technology. Its major site search is now powered by Ask Jeeves , the companies said on Thursday.

Ask Jeeves already powers HotBot, a search tool aimed at power users that's available via a link from the Lycos homepage.

Ask Jeeves is the fourth-largest search service, according to comScore Networks. But a recent survey of Internet users by Nielsen/NetRatings showed that the majority of searchers regularly used more than one of the top three. The finding shows an opportunity for second- and third-place search providers Yahoo and MSN to grab share from leader Google , but it could also provide an opportunity for Ask Jeeves and Lycos.

"Lycos and Ask Jeeves are forming a strong cooperative relationship, and I think they should broker it," said Jim Hedger, a search engine optimization writer for search marketing company Step Forth. "They're competing against three behemoths. Cooperative competition is the smartest strategy for the smaller engines."

Lycos features a mix of ads from Google and its proprietary AdSite service, but Hedger thinks that may change, thanks to the deepening of its relationship with Ask Jeeves.

"Ask Jeeves has an interesting search marketing platform of its own," Hedger said. "[That] leads me to believe that there will be some form of cross-pollination between Lycos and Ask's paid search marketing in the future."

Adam Soroca, general manager of search services at Lycos, said the partnership was about more than search technology. "It made sense for the product roadmap we have for the rest of the year," he said. "Ask Jeeves as a partner provides us with the flexibility to differentiate our product."

The Lycos portfolio includes some of the Web's pioneering properties: search service Hotbot.com and news service Wired.com, which Wired magazine launched in its heyday. Tripod.com and Angelfire.com were two early personal homepage and community sites. Lycos also operates Lycos Mail, Gamesville and GetRelevant.

But the brand lost its luster after Terra Networks, a Spanish Internet service, acquired it in 2000.

Daum Communications bought Lycos in October 2004 for a reported $95 million. Daum, Korea's second-largest Internet portal and largest free Web-based e-mail provider, has been on an acquisition spree. Last month, it bought online marketplace Onket, a service that competes with eBay .

Since the Daum acquisition, Lycos revived its venerable icon, the sleek black dog and the "Go Get It" slogan. It revamped its main page to make it more search-centric, emphasizing People, Yellow Pages, Shopping, Multimedia, News and Discussion Search.

"With the new owners, Daum Communications, there is a reemphasis and re-energization around search at Lycos," Soroca said. "We recognize our brand is about search. That's what most users recognize us for."

He said the site redesign "brought forth a number of search properties that were buried for years."

In February, the company launched Lycos Dating Search, a service that lets would-be lovers search and browse profiles from a variety of online matchmaking sites, including iMatchup.com, LoveAccess, Matchmaker.com, Tickle.com and True.com.

Soroca said Lycos will roll out several additional features in the first half of 2005, leading up to a fairly sizable announcement in the second half of the year.

"We haven't been able to tell the story for the past few years of why people should use Lycos," Soroca said. "Terra was focused on exporting products to properties around the world, and they had their own brand perspective. Now, we have a clear path to execute against."