Danny Sullivan has an article about the new Ask launch, and a subscribers only more in depth version as well.
For the most part their internal ad network will be a duplication of much of the core AdWords ranking technology (ad rank based upon CTR and CPC), and they will still use AdWords to backfill their ad network when they do not have many high value internal ads.
MSN should be launching their network around the end of this year, which will place Ask's ad network at #4 in terms of reach. With limited reach (Ask has around 5 to 6% of US search traffic), and the ability to buy ads that list on Ask directly from Google, it is going to be hard for Ask to build a large advertiser base.
What could help Ask gain exposure and mindshare for their new ad network (and may open them up to legal liabilities) is if they allow certain types of ads that people can't buy on other ad networks (such as US targeted gaming related ads). Controvercy equals free marketing.
They also should be able to do well in travel, loan, dating, and event ticket related verticals if they open up network ad space on IAC partner sites. Where would sold out concert ticket ads have any more value than being advertised on TicketMaster.com?
Advertisers will follow the inventory, so if IAC markets the heck out of Ask and increases search marketshare they will sell more ads. Running an internal ad network will allow them to be more flexible with how they monitize other properties and will make them less dependant on Google for revenue.
Ultimately the soon launching PPC networks has to be bad news for the smaller pay per click providers. Instead of Google, Overture, then FindWhat soon FindWhat (recently renamed to Miva) will be a number 5 position player, which can't bode well for their perceived traffic quality with how some of the other smaller pay per click engines are doing.
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