Ask Jeeves Confirms Bloglines Buy

Search player Ask Jeeves Tuesday confirmed widespread rumors it purchased the Bloglines feed aggregator service, and says advertising is one business model it will explore as it integrates the new property.

The company didn’t disclose terms of the deal to purchase Bloglines parent, Trustic, which is based in Redwood City, Calif. Bloglines, one of the most popular feed readers, is expected to remain an independent standalone brand and will continue to be free of charge to users. Neither company would reveal Bloglines’ user numbers.

“Ask Jeeves is, in the main, about information retrieval,” said Daniel Read, vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves. “What we see in Bloglines is another angle at looking at information retrieval. You could almost call it persistent searching. It enables you to persistently search for the type of information you’re interested in.”

Unlike search, in which paid listings are the norm, a clear business model has yet to emerge for RSS aggregation. Ask Jeeves itself monetizes searches via a deal with Google. Bloglines CEO Mark Fletcher, who will join Ask Jeeves as VP, previously said the company planned to incorporate text ads that were targeted based on data about users’ interests. Ask Jeeves’ Read wouldn’t confirm the addition of advertising would be pursued under the new ownership structure, but said Fletcher’s initial focus would be product enhancements already in the pipeline. Fletcher previously founded ONElist, an ad-supported email discussion list firm that was sold to Yahoo in 2000.

The first integration project will likely pair the Bloglines team and Ask Jeeves’ Teoma search group. The company will also likely incorporate Bloglines into its MyJeeves personalized tool.

“We want to create a much more compelling blog search service,” said Read. “Blogines gives us access to a very interesting and useful set of data to help build and continue to build great search products.”

The Bloglines acquisition is the latest since Ask Jeeves went on an acquisition spree in 2004, buying desktop search player Tukaroo and spending $343 million to purchase Interactive Search Holdings. Both have been used as vehicles to increase search volume on Ask Jeeves, and also to provide a distribution method for advertising.

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