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August 28, 2008

Ask.com Celebrates Ask Kids Relaunch

We’ve been bouncing around the office all day with these new Ask Kids Hippity Hops. We celebrated the launch of the new Ask Kids in the best way we knew how: by acting like kids ourselves. What do you think of our new toys?

  Ask_kids_hippity_hops  Ask_kids_toys

Ask Kids is homegrown, built from the ground-up, with our own search technology. We basically started from scratch and added search results and websites that pass our very strict test of what’s OK and what’s not OK. We had our editors contribute great kid's sites and used that as a basis to teach our search algorithms what to look for. The result is what we believe to be the most comprehensive, kid-friendly search available today.

Check it out... 

At first glance, Ask Kids has a whole new look, with a completely customizable home page.

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Take notes and doodle using the drawing tools, or pick out a few stickers to personalize your page with some cool images.

The all new Ask Kids has some exciting new product features as well (you may find them to be a striking resemblance to some of our most popular Ask3D features on Ask.com). The new visual design for Ask Kids is a great way to present information and get kids engaged, since they tend to be more clickers than they are typers. Try a search on High School Musical:

Ask_kids__high_school_musical

In the left rail, you’ll find the ever-present search box as well as the newest home for Ask.com’s famous Zoom Related Search. Narrow your search with High School Musical Lyrics, expand your search with related queries like Disney Channel, or check out related names like Zac Efron. As you move across the page you’ll find a Smart Answer at the top of the center panel. You’ll get relevant information about your query without having to surf through any links. In the right panel we serve up additional content like images and current events. As you change your query, the right rail content changes as well. Try a search on Egypt and we’ll show you local information like time, weather, and currency.

We’ve also pulled together all of our at-a-glance homework help and reference links into what we call the Schoolhouse. As you click on each subject the pages are packed with useful learning resources, shortcut links, and reference sites that we’ve highlighted especially for kids. We’ve also given parents and kids the ability to filter these tools by age group, so you can always find the most relevant resources for the child’s schoolwork.

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Ask Kids also makes it easy for kids to do an unlimited amount of reference searches, from famous people to world and state facts, as well as conversion equations, calculations, and dictionary and thesaurus searches.

Try any of these searches:
Cups to a gallon
Synonyms of fast
45 divided by 12
Minnesota quarter
Mozart

Oh, and also brand new to Ask Kids is video search. We’ve got video content, great for school research, from dozens of safe video content providers like Animal Planet, BBC, Discovery, and PBS. Try Global Warming or Volcanoes.

Ask Kids is an important part of our heritage, and reflects nearly 10 years of customer insights. We hope that you enjoy the site as much as we do.

Brendan Hallett
Senior Product Manager 

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August 22, 2008

Ask TV – a great search engine strategy unveiled at SES-San Jose!

Well, folks, it’s a wrap for SES San Jose this year. If you weren’t able to catch up with us this year at the event, there’s always next time!

Ask.com was on a few exciting panels this year, and it was great to catch up with all of our partners and other friends (hi Lisa!) and learn what new and cool innovations they are working on.

I had a spot on the Semantic Search panel Monday morning with Yahoo!, hakia, Powerset and Boo Rah and there was a lot of buzz in the air about what the future of Semantic Search will be, and how consumers will benefit from a semantic search experience on the web.

I spoke about Ask.com’s newest application of semantic search technology, searchable TV listings (which is still a work in progress, by the way). In case you missed it, I’d thought I’d take some time to fill you in.

Navigating TV listings in search of things like Olympic coverage can be a frustrating task. Not any more. With Ask.com it is now a real part of search. Straight from the Ask searchbox.

Our Ask TV listings uses our patent-pending technology DADS (Direct Answers from Databases) to answer queries and questions from structured data feeds and databases. DADS provides highly accurate answers to queries which are relevant to a given topic. Instead of using traditional keyword search algorithms, our technology can deliver much deeper, more precise search results based on understanding of a query meaning rather than syntactical text matching.

Ask TV answers queries ranging from "when is sports on tv this weekend" or "horror movies tonight" to "lindsay lohan on tv". Covering nearly 10,000 distinct stations and over 100,000 shows, our information is updated daily -- and it can be personalized and customized to any location and cable provider in the USA.

With deep content indexing, Ask TV can find content based on time within the next two weeks -- like today, this weekend, tomorrow night as well as name of actors, movies and sport events as well as types of programs such as comedies or horror movies.

Kinda cool, huh?

It doesn’t matter how you phrase your questions, because our DADs technology is able to understand what you are looking for (most of the time) no matter how you phrase your query. Check out these examples:

Is CSI on TV this Wednesday afternoon?

Csi_1_3

This Wednesday afternoon is CSI on TV?

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In the afternoon this Wednesday is CSI on TV?

Csi_3_3

Ask TV isn’t just the ‘couch potato’s’ dream come true. It's Ask answering our users’ needs as they make key daily decisions…like, “How can I entertain the kids while I make dinner?" Gee, when is “Zach and Cody” on?  Hmm, let me check my Ask TV listings!  :)

Ask TV listings technology is a glimpse into what the future holds for Semantic search, and here at Ask, we’re always innovating and pioneering new technology on behalf of our customers. AskTV and DADs is just another example that carries on that tradition.

Erik Collier
VP, Product Management

P.S. – Oh, here’s something I didn’t get to say at SES: the good news is, watch this space here for news of many more structured data verticals to come live on Ask.com…it’s just gonna get better!

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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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