Ask.com Purchases Dictionary.com

In a move to set itself apart from rival Google Inc., Internet reference firm Ask.com has announced its purchase of Lexico Publishing Group LLC.

Ask made the acquisition, which includes Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com, in hopes of growing the user base to more than 145 million unduplicated monthly unique users (UUs) worldwide, an increase of 11%, according to March 2008 comScore data.

“I can’t imagine a better home for Lexico sites than Ask.com, given its leadership in search technology and product innovation,” said Brian Kariger, CEO and Co-Founder of Lexico.

“This integration will give the Lexico sites a better consumer experience and even more useful for finding answers.”

Dictionary.com is the most popular site to be sold to Ask.com. Dictionary alone drew 22.1 million users in March.

Jim Safka, CEO of Ask.com, said “Ëœdictionary’ was the second-most searched term on Ask.com last year.

“At the same time, Lexico’s consumers frequently seek out a search engine immediately before and after using one of Lexico’s sites,” Safka said. “This acquisition expands Ask.com’s reach and aligns perfectly with our customers’ needs.”

“We want to ‘super serve’ those people,” he added.

However, Safka insisted that the new acquisition doesn’t represent a change in direction for the Oakland-based firm. He added that the Web site would also take measures to highlight more information about entertainment and health issues.

In March, Ask reduced its workforce by 8 percent and indicated that it would revert back to its founding idea of answering questions for its users when it began as AskJeeves.com. Ask officials also said the search engine would start catering to its core audience of women.

Ask plans to plant some of its search engine results on the reference sites in an effort to expose its technology to an even wider audience.

Information from Dictionary.com will also be integrated into Ask.com’s search engine results.

While Ask has been largely reliant on Google’s advertising methods for much of its revenue for years, it has been investing heavily in upgrades aimed at positioning its search engineer as a “smarter” alternative to Google.

Although many of Ask’s innovations have impressed analysts, the efforts haven’t changed the competitive landscape.

Google ended March with a 60 percent share of the U.S. search market, while Ask ranked a distant fifth with a less than a 5 percent share of the market, comScore said.

On the Net:

Ask.com

Dictionary.com

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