Ask.com Should Buy Microsoft

I’m sure you’ve seen the recent TV spots for Ask.com. The latest round of ads certainly has my colleagues and I scratching our heads. Just what are they trying to accomplish? Sure any publicity is good publicity, but racing barstools? C’mon.

Shift gears to Microsoft (sorry, no pun intended) and the increased focus on their search offering. I’ve seen TV, print and online banner ads – tastefully done, not terrifically compelling, but clever enough.

Enough of the B2C marketing these two companies are doing to generate public traffic on their search engines. Let’s talk about customer service and follow through in the search marketing agency/search engine relationship.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally respect and certainly appreciate what our reps at the engines do for us. They provide a very valuable service and go the extra mile for us on a regular basis. It’s the bureaucracy, or lack thereof that they operate in.

Microsoft, being the behemoth that it is, seems to feed itself on paperwork and ever-changing procedures. Until recently new paid search account set-up with Microsoft has been a process that moved at a glacial pace. Again, I’m not blaming our agency reps. I know they’ve been as frustrated as I have been in dealing with the delays. Faxes were gobbled up with frightening regularity, procedures and forms saw weekly revisions.

Ask.com is at the other end of the spectrum. Theirs seem to be a more free-wheeling approach to administrative record-keeping. I’ve contacted our rep there and, no kidding, have had a new account live that very day, although billing has been a challenge for them on occasion.

What I’m advocating is a marriage of the two cultures that a merger would surely bring about – a perfect blend of accurate record-keeping with minimal paperwork. Microsoft must lose its propensity for administrative and procedural excess. An Ask.com acquisition and the “hungry for your business” attitude that follows would breathe new life into the aging infrastructure of Microsoft.

Sure, this is never going to happen. Given today’s credit crunch, Ask.com could never line up the financing.