Kate Morris

Otherwise know as @katemorris.com by friends.

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Ask from the Grave

There is a large amount of hoopla over the Google UI change. This post was inspired by one over at WordStream asking if Google was the new Bing. I’ll say what a few people have said already, but I have a little more ranting behind it as well. Google’s new look is not Bing, it’s Ask.

Matt Cutts Ask Zombie

2006 Matt Cutts as the Zombie Jeeves

A while ago (and we are talking years) at SMX Advanced 2007, the Google Dance Northwest to be exact, I watched as the Ask PR Director worked through the launch of Ask 3D. A few friends and I got a private tour of the new features, and I knew immediately that they were years ahead of their time. But they went and threw it all away.

(Funny enough, that night was when I first met Matt Cutts, who is in this picture. :P)

Now, even though it was proven to work better with users within the first few months, Google finally accepted it and is using the three column approach. It took Microsoft and Yahoo 2 years to adopt it, and Google 3 years. What does Ask get out of it? Nothing.

So I will say again. The Microsoft/Yahoo deal should not have happened. Instead, had Yahoo been smart, they would have bought Ask and AOL. *sigh* They might have tried, I don’t know, but what I do know is AOL, Ask and Yahoo are now all but dead. To Microsoft and Google … do you see the opportunity here? If you haven’t already, pick off the Ask talent. It’s being so wasted.

</rant>

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Live Asks Ask

Live released a new look … look familiar?? *sigh* But it does look good. Live looks like Ask, Ask is using Microsoft Maps, hmmm …

New Live.com
live.com

Ask.com
ask.com

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The Ask Attempt

I’ve heard from a number of people in the industry that the new CEO of Ask has been contacting them trying to get them back as brand ambassadors. Smart move? Yes. Executed well? No.

The CEO, if he isn’t already, needs to be reading Seth Godin’s blog. If he is already, I would suggest not skimming the entries. Why? It looks like he got the concept – the company made a boo-boo, and he knew that many influential bloggers we mad. So he reached out to them.

What did he miss?

  1. He insulted most of them in an article on Forbes.
  2. He missed meetings.  (can’t say who with, they like their twitts anonymous)
  3. He missed the entire point they had all been making.

Why do I talk about Ask so much? Well they keep giving me reasons to AND I still think they have some great people with some great ideas. Remember my idea of an Ask/Yahoo deal? Well I have one thing to say to the Ask.com employees:

Yahoo is hiring.

Go take your ideas to a company with a greater following and the infrastructure to top the industry. Yahoo is hurting, but I think with the right ideas (the kind we see at Ask) they can take off again. I know the executives at Ask wanted Yahoo bought out, but that was just for PR purposes. We all know that was and still is a BAD idea.

UPDATE: Few more articles as of late. One is from The Lisa about Ask’s attempts with her. And the other is about how they are outsourcing various areas, to Microsoft no doubt. *sigh*

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Thoughts on Ask.com – Again

I’ve got a meeting soon, but I need to get this out while it’s fresh on the mind.

Last year I sat in Seattle at a Google Dance, and watched the beginning of blended search. It wasn’t on Google. It was on the new Ask.com. I was stoked. The interface was smooth, easy to understand, and put everything in one place.

A few months ago, Ask announced that it was dropping out in the race for search dominance, and focusing on women. What everyone in the industry heard is “we give up.” People cried, some went into hiding (kidding), and most just shook their head. A search engine that was doing everything right, developing ideas that were changing search as a whole, just dropped out.

Then the whole Yahoo thing came up and I mentioned that I thought a combination of Yahoo/Ask/AOL would be a killer. Great ideas, great community, great search.

Now what is Ask doing? Acting like the teenager in a new relationship saying “But I didn’t mean it!” Ask is now saying they were misunderstood. They are not dropping out in the race for search dominance. In fact, they are buying up other companies to build out their holdings.

What does the internet community think? The general consensus is that this newest release is a “we messed up bad” bit. But they did more than that. As Micheal Gray says, they missed the role that brand evangelists play. Lisa Barone at Bruce Clay was ready to die for Ask if they asked her. Now she won’t have anything to do with them. And that’s just ONE relationship, albeit a BIG one.

There is a huge need for graveling and innovation for Ask to fix that “erroneous communication” back in March. A few months is a LONG time in our world. You have to think about what you’re saying before you say it. Hire some great developers Ask, and a better PR team. You’ve got some relationships to rebuild if you want back in good graces.

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AOL+ASK+Yahoo?

We got a call from AOL marketing services yesterday. Bit of a surprise to me, but then I thought about how many times I’ve heard AOL’s name in the past week and was surprised no longer. From new executives to the acquisition of Bebo, their like 105th acquisition in the past year (I exaggerate), I can see they are on the move.

Then thinking about how Time Warner is planning to spin them off got me thinking. Ask just made a dumb move focusing just on women (I am one and all, but really??), Yahoo is in trouble, and AOL is going psycho.

Humor me for a second. How interesting would this situation be? Ask and AOL merge, which is highly probable according to other industry experts (and AOL’s 106th acquisition), forming the now AOL. I propose another name or something — but with AOL’s base, Ask’s technology, Quigo/Ads.com and AIM/Bebo, they have something there.

Take that company and put that up against the top 3. Now remember that Yahoo is in danger of being bought out. I don’t want that to be Microsoft, so why not merge the new AOL/ASK and Yahoo? Talk about a powerhouse! Ideas, technology, subscribers galore! That is the only way I can see anyone giving Google a run for their money.