By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-07-09 Print this article Print

-to-End Search"> Especially on the desktop, I know that theres the toolbar that some of the companies you acquired had and that you had as well. So, what else is there? Search is so many things out there as we start to look at the world. Search needs to be an end-to-end function. Its about information retrieval, so I need to be able to build applications that help me get people to the desktop … give people that entry point into information.
When we talk about the Web today, were talking about unstructured data, which is the idea that the Web is an aggregation of content. The only structure on the Web is the social network of the Web, which is the way people link to each other. Thats how you define the importance of a Web site [by] how its linked to another Web site.
Then you have this whole structured world of content, which is content that exists in your personal databases that youve developed and content thats in structured databases like catalogs, and even the Yellow Pages. All these informational sources, we need to be able to access. And thats where I think the desktop search will come into play in terms of building applications that dont just search the Web but search other structured databases. Eight-five percent of the information is in databases not accessible by the Web. So, we need to find ways to access that information, and some will come from the Web [and] some will be downloaded on your desktop. We just need to be able to create multiple access points for people. Today, though, do you actually have a desktop application for desktop search beyond the Web? Right now, we have toolbars mostly that go into the browser, and we will be developing applications over time that eventually go onto the desktop in other ways and through other applications. Click here to read more about Ask Jeeves recent acquisition of a desktop-search startup. On the ad side, I know advertising is really important for revenues. I think you guys are also around 95 percent of revenue from ads … Our whole business is ad-based, either direct or through sponsored links. The model is its free to the consumers … I kind of define it as the real estate of the mall. Our technology brings consumers and content providers together, some for free and some for pay. The great part about search is that advertising, if done properly, actually is content. Thats where the future of this business goes. More recently, a lot of your revenue was coming from providing another avenue for Google AdWords … We still are, and a lot of revenue comes from that. But that gets back to the idea that our business model is that advertisers want our traffic because its so valuable. The fact that today it happens to be Google, tomorrow it could be ourselves or Overture. Its all about our ability to convert for advertisers, because the information were delivering to consumers is valuable. How important is it to you to create more of a direct relationship with these advertisers? And can you do that now with the acquisition? I still need to grow. I have two concerns about the industry. The biggest concern we face as an industry is that we all are aligned on one thing—Google, Yahoo, MSN. Our goal has to be to move dollars from the offline world to the online world. So, it may be in my self-centered best interests to have my own systems, but if we do that, were going to make it more difficult for advertisers to move into this space. Read more here about how new advertising methods have helped revive Web search. If they have to go to 27 different places to do the same thing, where they cant consolidate their bidding and it isnt the most productive … It isnt going to do anybody any good to have that happen in this industry. So, theres kind of, in a sense, a very strong co-opetition idea. Our single most-important issue for us is [that] we probably have 15 percent of the consumable media. Were equal to almost any other media in the amount of time people spend in front of the technology. But we only get 2 percent of the ad dollars. We need to bring that in line because we all benefit if that happens… Theres really three legs in the stool of this business. Theres the user, theres the technology that enables users and then theres the advertiser. Were very strong on the first two, and we need to build up that third leg over time … At the end of the day, if the worst thing that happens to me is I become the alternative to the other engines, Ill be very happy with that market share. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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