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December 22, 2006

THE YEAR IN ASK 2006

You know us. We hate to exaggerate. So when we say this was Ask.com's biggest year ever, it's not just because it was Ask.com's FIRST year ever. It's because it was a year of milestones for us. To wit:

JANUARY:


Ask launched Image Search. The last major innovation of the Jeeves era. Image Search, and all its zoom links and search refinements, are still going strong. Jeeves, not so much.

FEBRUARY:


The New Ask.com debuted. Soon to become the standard by which all other butlerless search engines shall be judged. 

The Ask.com Launch Party kicked it off in style. Storm troopers, dancing battlebots, Barry Diller and more for a capacity crowd of 2000. The unveiling of Jeeves in carbonite spawned more camera phones than a Suri Cruise sighting.

Smart Answers got into Weather. Just typing your city or zip code and the word  "weather" gives you the conditions faster than looking out your window.

Maps and Directions hit the streets. Draggable push pins, multi-point directions, and more--all forming the basis for AskCity later in the year. We still recommend against using the aerial views and "buy photo" option to stalk ex-girlfriends.

MARCH:

The "Use Tools, Feel Human" campaign hit and hit big. The spots, created by agency Chiat/Day, helped to clear the last of Jeeves from the memories of the American public. PETA gave us their annual "Litterbox Award" for featuring a monkey in pants and implying he couldn't use a search engine. We apologize to clothed orangutans everywhere and invite them to use Ask.com all they want. And why isn't PETA going after the hotdog-eating bears?

APRIL:


Emoticon-to-English Smart Answers arrive. By typing in the emoticon and getting the answer on Ask, parents everywhere discover that their kids aren't swearing at them in code.

JUNE:


Blog & Feed Search kept you in the know. A delicious mix of ExpertRank and Bloglines, covered in a tasty Ask.com shell.  

We became the official search engine of NBC's "Treasure Hunters." This first foray into broadcast media integration tripled our site traffic. Partnerships with Miami Ink, The Ryder Cup, US Open and Fuse followed. Times Square search feed, anyone?

Smart Answers covered the World Cup. Type in "World Cup" and your country--get your team's name and pertinent info. We're pretty sure there's a "more traffic than a soccer riot" analogy to be made in there somewhere.

OCTOBER:


We made a huge splash at Digital Life 2006. The 900 Ask.com T-shirts distributed, 2500 live demos given, and 14,000 gift bags handed out paid off in sizable jumps in perception, familiarity and favorability. Not to mention some of the worst karaoke performances ever. 

DECEMBER:


AskCity launches, to massive positive media attention and usage. Who knew so many people were looking for a good local masseuse?

"How many days til Christmas" Smart Answer arrived. You probably know the answer to this one by now...unless you're reading this in 2007! It works for other holidays too.

That's not even counting Ask Mobile, tons of other Smart Answers, celebrations, partnerships, a year-end secret and a whole lot more. Bottom line:  Best Year Ever. Until the next one.

Happy New Year, everybody!

--The Ask.com Team
   

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December 12, 2006

How You're Using AskCity

It's been a whirlwind of activity over here with the launch of AskCity, and we're just now catching our breath and getting the lay of the land. We've seen hundreds of news items and blog headlines about the product, and the positive ones outweigh the negatives at a rate of about 100 to Scoble. We've seen posts like TechCrunch's "AskCity Launches. It's Cool" and "Ask City: The Online Map With The Best Features Hands Down" over at CyberNet News--not to mention glowing reports from both the New York and LA Times (subscription required for both).

It's always nice to be appreciated. But since at our core we're more geek than debutante, we've actually been focusing more on how people are using AskCity. We've collated the top queries from our first week and thought you might be interested to see what we've found so far:

Top 10 Dining Choices in Business Search:

1. Pizza
2. Italian
3. Traditional American
4. Sushi
5. Coffee
6. Chinese
7. Starbucks
8. Fast food
9. Deli
10. Mexican
 
Pizza and Italian as our top two queries? Interesting. Future restaurateurs take note!

Top 10 Artists in Event Search:

1. Madonna
2. U2
3. Rolling Stones
4. Dave Matthews
5. The Who
6. Rod Stewart
7. Justin Timberlake
8. Incubus
9. Dixie Chicks
10. Damien Rice

Mostly currently touring acts with some newsmakers mixed in. Before the weekend,  Madonna was in the #6 slot...now she's #1. Must be those three Grammy noms.

Top 10 Services in Business Search:

1. Massage
2. Shopping mall
3. Hospitals
4. Family doctor
5. Churches
6. Plumber
7. Florist
8. Police department
9. General practice attorneys
10. Auto repair

Hospitals, churches, police departments and attorneys in the Top Ten? Sounds like you people had a rough week. No wonder you're looking for a good massage.

--The AskCity Team

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December 05, 2006

AskCity Gives You the Business

What sets AskCity apart from other local search? For one thing, it offers four different kinds of search: Businesses, Events, Movies, and Maps & Directions. You don't really need to know any more than that to be off and running. Just go to the Ask.com home page and click AskCity in the toolbox.

But for those of you who'd like a bit more detail, we'll break it down for you. For this post, let's take a quick look at Business Search:

Business Search in a New York Minute

AskCity Business Search lets you find businesses and services in your city, or anywhere across the country, including customer reviews, driving directions and more. Use it to find the best deli in town, the most reliable plumber for your house, or the nearest post office to work.

All you need to put in is the name or the type of business you're looking for, and the approximate location--address, street name, city, neighborhood or just zip code.

NYC delis

For instance:

A San Francisco Sample

Type the search term "Restaurants" in the top search box and "San Francisco, CA" in the second search box. You'll see your results not only as text in the center column of your screen, but as placement markers on the map to your right.

san fran restaurants

Each result comes fully loaded with a series of tools that allow you to pin the result on the map, plot directions to or from it, send it to a friend via Email, and much more.

Click on a result and you'll notice that your full list of results collapses into a bar called Results, and is replaced by a new panel of information titled "Details."

And by "Details," we mean business listings and ratings from Citysearch, the ability to make reservations via OpenTable, customer reviews from around the Web, and much more.

Thick Chicago-style Content

In fact, depending on what sort of business you search on, your details might include a healthy portion of the following:
  - Business listings and ratings from Citysearch
  - Event information and ticket purchasing from Ticketmaster and TicketWeb
  - Detailed information about local service providers from ServiceMagic
  - Movie reviews and content from Tribune and movie ticket purchases from Fandango
  - User reviews from Yelp!, Tripadvisor and 20 other top sites
  - Even campground reservations from ReserveAmerica

All without a separate page loading. You get sharp local search, detailed results, and the option to take the next step, all without leaving AskCity.

Next time we'll take a look at AskCity Events Search. Or you could just go to the Ask.com home page and…well, you get the idea.

--The AskCity Team

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December 04, 2006

AskCity Lights Up

It's here. It's ready. And dozens of Ask.com employees can look forward to their first full night's sleep in weeks. Our latest labor of love, AskCity local search, has officially launched and launched well.

While the first reviews are trickling in, general consensus seems to be that it blows the doors off of any other local search out there.

Why? Glad you asked. Here's a few reasons why AskCity is different, and yeah, better:

1. It integrates four powerful search engines into one: Business and Services, Events, Movies, and Maps and Directions. Use one, or use several at a time to plan out a night out you won't soon forget.

2. It uses Ask.com's world-class search technology, including our algorithms and related search.

3. It utilizes some of the best local-themed content from around the web. Being part of the company that owns sites like Citysearch and Ticketmaster has its advantages. And partnering up with local content and/or service entities like OpenTable, Tripadvisor and almost two dozen others? That's just good sense.

Which leads us to the big reason, the one that really sets AskCity apart from other local search:

4. It's search that actually helps you get things done. We've incorporated some serious tools into the mix that let you go from information to action. Find a concert--buy tix without leaving your search results page. Find a restaurant--book the table in seconds. Stuff like that.

We'll post more about the product and its dynamite features over the next few   days--but why not give it a try now? Go to Ask.com's home page and click on the "AskCity" link in the toolbox.

Let us know what you think! We're off for a celebratory drink and a good night's sleep.

--The Ask.com Team

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AskCity Has Arrived!

AskCity local search, Our latest and greatest product, hit the streets as of the wee hours this morning, and we couldn't be happier.

Look for a more detailed post about AskCity later today, but in the meantime:

And welcome.

--The Ask.com Team

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December 01, 2006

Ask.com at SES Chicago 2006

Even as we write this, a handful of Ask.com notables are preparing to wing their way to Chi-town for the Search Engine Strategies 2006 Conference & Expo, to join their fellow searcherati in sub-freezing temperatures. If you're looking for the Ask.com presence at SES, you'll find it at these panels:

James Speer, VP Marketing and Products, IAC Advertising Solutions, Ask.com
  Tuesday, December 5, 2006
  TOPIC: Meet the Search Ad Networks, 4:30pm-5:45pm

Paul Vallez, Director, Product Management, Ask.com
  Wednesday, December 6, 2006
  TOPIC: Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues, 2:00pm-3:15pm

Vivek Pathak, Infrastructure Product Manager, Ask.com
  Wednesday, December 6, 2006
  TOPIC: Social Search Overview, 9:00am-10:15am

  Thursday, December 7, 2006
  TOPIC: Meet the Crawlers, 9:00am-10:15am
  TOPIC: Search Engine Q&A On Links, 10:45am-12:00pm

Be sure to come by after the panels and say hello. And for pity's sake take a jacket! You know how we worry.

--The Ask.com Team

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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