Like Ask.com, Ticketmaster reported a strong showing in the latest quarter. Moreover, investors are likely pleased to see that IAC is sticking to a strategy of making small, targeted acquisitions.

These latest news bites again focus the spotlight on the stronger aspects of IAC's holdings. While the company is showing improvement at its Home Shopping Network division, which is part of a retail unit that accounts for nearly half of company revenue and one-third of its profit, that turnaround is likely to be a long, drawn-out process.

But IAC's future lies in its other faster-growing and market-leading properties, which include No. 1 ticket vendor Ticketmaster, Match.com, the world's biggest online dating site, and ServiceMagic, the leading online marketplace for homeowners and service providers, among others.

And while Ask.com will play a key role in making the most of this far-flung empire, a real key to its success in the wildly competitive search market will be determined by its ability to tap its sister properties for unique content.

For example, a Web search launched on Ask.com could direct a user to a local home-service provider on ServiceMagic or find tickets to an event at Ticketmaster.com. At the same time, IAC has placed search boxes across a number of its sites that are powered by Ask.com, and the unique content available there because of its partnerships should provide further incentive to use the search engine.

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