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I truly believe that one of the biggest drivers of Google's success (I'm not breaking new ground here) is how extremely usable all of their tools are. It has always been far easier to create a profitable campaign using Google than any other PPC search provider. Easy = more customers spending more money.

So, if hard = less customers spending less money, then Ask.com has some serious work ahead of it with their sponsored search platform. For one thing, it is essentially a re-branded management tool from Looksmart--and no amount of lipstick is going to make that pig look good. It is one of the single most difficult (and just plain illogical) management tools you'll find.

Second, their customer service is atrocious. I've had my own bad experiences, and so apparently have lots of others. Take a look at these posts on SearchEngineWatch (a popular site in the search marketing community):
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=12942&page=1&pp=20

Something to consider the next time you hear Ask.com referred to as legitimate contender to the Google/Yahoo/MSNs of the world.
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COGBOX --

I didn't follow all your references but it seemed like you are commenting on ease of use for those wanting to advertise on Ask, right? I'd be more interested in how easy it is to use the product to find something and how the "somethings" compare to those found by Google.

My understanding is that IACI wants to use the search product to drive people to its other sites. That, of course, only works if they can lure people from Google, whose tool bar has become only a default on PCs. Can they?

-- Dale in Woodville
(who uses G from laziness but plans to try Ask)
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I don't know about your guys, but I can't stand the Google tool bar. I times that I've installed it the ads and spyware it came with caused so much havoc with my system that I couldn't get it off. I use the Yahoo tool bar exclusively now. Maybe Google has made it better, but I won't take the change. Besides, Firefox offers a Google search bar in the browser and Yahoo gives me easy access to all their content which I use a lot. I've tried to use ask.com for searches, but it's just not as good as Google right now....and this is coming from an IACI investor.
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