IAC-owned Ask.com has agreed to acquire Lexico Publishing Group, the owner of Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, and Reference.com.
The move will help Ask.com fulfill its recent strategy to focus on reference and providing answers to questions. More than half a billion monthly worldwide searches consist of dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia queries, according to comScore.
The acquisition brings to Ask.com 15.6 million monthly unique users, growing 29% year-over-year, giving the combined entity more than 145 million unduplicated users worldwide, making Ask.com the ninth-largest Web property in the world. A full 88 percent of Lexico sites' traffic comes from direct navigation, where users type in "dictionary.com" or other site names in their browser.
"We think it fits in very nicely with what we have at Ask.com," Doug Leeds, chief strategy officer at Ask.com, told Search Engine Watch. "We're going to take some of the things that make Ask.com great, like related search and binoculars, and bring them to Dictionary.com."
The Lexico sites will also be redesigned to include the three-paneled Ask3D functionality for its search results, he said.
For dictionary.com, the move brings users closer to their next or previous destinations, which quite often is a search engine, Leeds said. The addition of Lexico's reference sites will improve Ask.com users' experience as well, since more than 30 percent of all searches conducted on Ask.com are in the reference category.
Terms of the all-cash transaction were not disclosed. Once the deal closes, the 16 employees of privately held Lexico are expected to join Ask.com's team.