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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Holly Asks Ask to Get a Hobby? [At Least They Didn't Call it a 'Wife Engine' Dept.]

On the subject of Ask.com's latest restructuring, we have the following guest post from Holly Buchanan, of Future Now. Take it away Holly!

--
So Ask.com is now going to focus on married women. OK, they have my interest since marketing to women online is my focus.

“With the shift, the Oakland-based company will return to its roots by concentrating on finding answers to basic questions about recipes, hobbies, children's homework, entertainment and health.”

Um –ok. I’m a woman and I can tell you that I’ve done close to a hundred searches this month and not one was on any of the above topics.

Here’s something for Ask.com to think about – women don’t compartmentalize their lives. Women business owners often use the same products at work that they use at home and vice versa.

Married women are searching for many things related to both work and home life. I don’t know if they are going to use one search engine to search for “recipes, hobbies, children’s homework, entertainment and health,” and a different search engine for work related subjects.

The Pew Internet study - Women and Men Online - did find that men tend to stick to a single engine, while women had a few favorites. But I wonder if it’s simply because she was using MSN as her home page and searching on that, or if she happened to be looking at content on Yahoo and used their search engine. I think it’s a matter of “convenience” more than “favorites.”

But with Google search now being included in so many task bars – I wonder if women will find THAT more convenient.

Will women actually type in www.ask.com to go to another search engine with other good options so readily available? I don’t know.

In the end, I suspect it will come down to two things :

  1. Convenience. Which search engine is at her fingertips at the time.
  2. Best results. Which search engine delivers the most relevant results.

If I were ask.com and focusing on women – those would be the two things I would concentrate on.

Oh, and one other suggestion – “hobbies” sounds condescending. Women have passions and interests. Those words might win you more fans.

--
Holly Buchanan is co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth (Wizard Academy Press, 2008).

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