CNNMoney (via Investors Business Daily) looks at the partnership between Google AdWords and Ask.com, where Google sponsored links are served as filler for Ask.com Sponsored Listings across the IAC network. Ask.com and Google’s ad relationship is coming to an end this year, and
According to CNNMoney, Ask.com is not as important to Google as a sponsored search partner as it was four or five years ago because Google has much larger partners in MySpace and AOL now.
I disagree that Ask.com is not an important advertising partner for Google. On the contrary, Ask.com holds a 3% share of the entire search market, ranked forth behind Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
Furthermore, the IAC Network is ripe for contextual advertising, which Ask.com has been testing internally, along with running Google AdSense advertising.
The question as to whether or not Ask.com will renew with Google is not a question of Ask.com’s importance to Google. It is, on the contrary, a question of Google’s importance to Ask.com.
Over the past year or so, Yahoo and Microsoft have launched innovative and profitable search advertising portals in the new Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. These companies have been aggressive in competing with Google to land larger partners, such as Yahoo has with the Bebo social network.
Ask.com & IAC now enjoy the leverage of sitting back and bouncing the offers off of each other, as that 3% search market share could mean a lot for Yahoo or Microsoft expanding their search advertising share.
Add a deal with IAC contextual advertising AND display advertising in the mix and Yahoo may have the jump on Google, with the ability to offer search ads, contextual ads, display ads and transparent behavioral targeting across the IAC network as Google and its global partners still wait for the DoubleClick deal to finalize.
Let’s also not forget that Ask.com and Microsoft are already working together to offer Ask.com Sponsored Listings to Microsoft advertisers. Surely this move had to lift the spirits of Microsoft while sticking it to Google. Will Microsoft be able to leverage its sales force in an effort to win the entire pie from Ask.com?