Practical Ecommerce

Interview: “Ask.com Search Results Are Different”

Interactive Corp., or IAC, owns many large Internet-based companies. These companies include Lendingtree.com, Realestate.com, Match.com and Ticketmaster.com. IAC also owns Ask.com, the search engine that competes with Google, Yahoo! and MSN. IAC’s chairman, Barry Diller, is attempting to sell many “non-core” Internet companies and focus largely on Ask.com and other related companies.

Two IAC executives

As such, we asked two Ask.com executives, Jeff Shioya, Regional Vice President IAC Advertising Solutions, and Ryan Massie, Vice President of Product Management, about Ask.com and how it is different than the other search engines.

PeC: Most search traffic is at Google. Why should ecommerce companies consider pay-per-click ads at Ask.com?

SHIOYA: No advertiser will reach all search users by running a campaign with a single search company. The payoff of any search marketing campaign eventually hits a plateau because there are only so many keywords and price adjustments that can be made. Ask Sponsored Listings allow advertisers to add incremental clicks to their current campaigns at a lower cost-per-click, thus not increasing the overall cost-per-acquisition. There is a significant amount of search traffic that is being missed by advertisers putting all their ads with just one company.

PeC: What about Ask.com’s audience versus other search engines?

SHIOYA: We have very little audience duplication with Google and other search engines.

PeC: So what’s new with Ask.com?

MASSIE: The biggest recent news is Ask3D, a completely redesigned and re-engineered version of Ask.com. Introduced in June, Ask3D combines a powerful new search technology, an innovative three-panel design and unique features to help people find what they are looking for faster.

An important component of Ask3D is Morph, our new algorithmic content matching and ranking technology. Morph delivers the most relevant content for each search query and places that content onto one single page. Morph chooses from the widest range of content types, including web pages, images, video, music clips and news, and transforms the page to each individual query.

In addition, Ask3D introduces the innovative three-panel interface that represents the three dimensions of search: Composing a query, reviewing results, and finding content. The left panel is the “control panel” where people enter their queries and can quickly refine their search with TypeAhead search suggestions and our Zoom Related Search that automatically suggests conceptually related queries to help narrow or expand searches. The center panel is where you’ll find your primary search results as well as our top Smart Answer, useful shortcuts to direct answers right at the top of the search results page. And the right panel provides content that goes beyond the standard links. A wide variety of content, including images, news items, blogs, weather, time and music clips are delivered in this right panel where other engines offer ads.

_Ask.com has introduced a number of additional tools and features to make the search experience faster and easier. These include a new homepage offering customizable backgrounds that let users chose from a variety of personalized “skins” in-line music previews so searchers can listen to music clips from the results page; location-based results that offer search results based on a person’s location and their query; and video search so searchers can now find their favorite videos and preview clips. _

PeC: Are search results different on Ask than on Google, MSN and Yahoo!?

MASSIE: Yes. Ask.com’s search results are different than our competitors, not only in the way web pages are ranked but also in the variety of content types included on the search results page.

With our ExpertRank web page ranking technology, Ask.com provides highly relevant results by identifying the most authoritative sites on the web. ExpertRank goes beyond pure link popularity, and instead determines popularity among pages considered to be experts on the topic of the query.

In addition, Ask.com provides searchers with the broadest range of content on the search results page. With our Morph technology, people will get a wider range of content types specific to each individual query. For example, search for “Gwen Stefani” and Morph gives searches the widest range of content including images samples of popular music tracks, encyclopedic information and videos. Another example is “San Francisco.” Morph technology provides results that include current weather, current time, images and a map of the area.

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User March 18, 2008 Reply

    I just did some searches on Ask.com and a bunch of the results were linking to pages that have been moved, or no longer exist. Ouch. Not good. I will try some less obscure things and maybe get some better results. So far the search results have not been fantastic.

    — *Steve*

  2. Legacy User March 23, 2008 Reply

    Same here. Broken links and porn. Different for sure.

    — *John*

  3. Legacy User March 24, 2008 Reply

    Do this search on their blog search "ask.com". Hope your policy for porn in the office is very liberal.

    What a crappy experience.

    This interview is a bunch of B.S.

    — *Jim Zalone*