Ask.com Parent IAC Sees Disappointing Revenues, Plans Vertical Search Strategy

Ask.com parent IAC this week reported a $156.2 million net loss for 2008, or $1.08 loss per share. For Q4 2008, IAC reported $227.4 million in net income, or $1.57 per share. Not counting several write-downs for underperforming assets, adjusted net income came in at $265.5 million for the year, of which $249.6 million was reported in Q4 alone.

Media and advertising revenues, which include Ask.com, Dictionary.com and Citysearch, fell 19 percent year-to-year to $183.7 million. IAC attributes that to a “de-emphasis of relationships with certain partners,” as well as fewer overall queries. It was offset by higher revenues per query, however.

The company said search ad prices dropped 8 to 12 percent during the period, and it expects media and ad revenue to decline by more than 20 percent this quarter.

Instead of attempting to take on Google head-on, Ask.com will follow a vertical search strategy, which kicked off last month with deal where Ask will power the search experience on NASCAR.com, provide a NASCAR toolbar, and sponsor a car. IAC plans to roll out from 8 to 10 similar relationships this year.

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