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March 23, 2007

The Local Authorities: Drilling Down 2007

If you're involved in local search, chances are you know about the Kelsey Group's Drilling Down conference. This year's activities included a couple of Ask.com appearances, a keynote speech from IAC's Peter Horan and a panel discussion featuring AskCity's Ryan Massie.

Copyright© 2007 The Kelsey Group.
Plus, between panels we hijacked a vendor's display equipment to do a quick AskCity demo and impressed the heck out of them. All in all, a strong Ask.com showing this year.


Peter used his keynote speech to offer the big-picture take on local search and how AskCity exemplifies that. A pair of highlights:

1. The first decade of local content was about brand; the next decade will be about relevance. Live in San Jose? Look to the SJ Mercury News site. Live in Los Angeles? Try the LA Times. No more. Now, users are looking beyond brands for quality content--no matter where it comes from.

2. Local content exists between two extremes:

- Broad subject matter relevant to a large audience (e.g. a trend piece from The New York Times or local news)

- Narrow subject matter relevant to specific needs (e.g. local bloggers, user reviews, "where can I find a dry cleaner open Sundays?"

Peter finished up with a quick presentation of AskCity, showing how it leverages top online brands and deep content sources like Citysearch and recent acquisition InsiderPages to create relevant local search.



(Panel included Ryan Massie, Ask.com Director of Product Management, Vertical Products)

Ryan stood out in his panel (among reps from Judy's Book, The Bakersfield Californian, Outside.In, and local data vendor Urban Mapping) largely by being the only search-driven site on the panel. And while there was no agreed-upon definition of what "Hyperlocal" meant (Facilitator Peter Krasilovsky dismissed the term with a "we all know what we're talking about, right?"), most of the panelists had the same measurement for success: ad sales. Ryan countered that AskCity's yardstick is quite different.

"When someone comes to that search box," He explained, "and we give them exactly what we want--the right result, the right content, take them to the right page--they're going to come back. That's success." He explained. "Or to take action on AskCity--to book (a dinner reservation) on OpenTable, and then to come back again--that's success too." He also mentioned that AskCity had no specific plans to include ads, but didn't rule it out.


Ken Grobe
Product Content Manager

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March 19, 2007

Spring Break Search Gone Wild!

Odds are if you're reading this blog, your spring break plans involve hot coffee and 8AM traffic. But on Ask.com Web Search, we're clocking Spring Break queries like crazy.

We can still remember back when Spring Break meant something. That's why, for our curiosity and your edification, we've taken a couple of data cuts from the weeks just before. It's an interesting portrait of what Spring Break's about:

Spring Break: Top Searches

More people searched on "When is Spring Break?" than the next twenty queries put together. But once searchers got past that--or remembered that they owned calendars--the breakdown was a pretty accurate reflection of what most of us think of when we think of Spring Break:

Spring Break: Top 10 Destination Searches

With 28% of all queries, Panama City, FL wins by a landslide. Even the Travel Channel agrees.


Spring Break: Top 10 Places People are Searching From

Cities are numbered according to amount of queries.

Here's where things got really interesting. To wit:

(1) A surprising amount of people are searching from warmer climates like Orlando and Atlanta. Maybe that whole getting-out-of-the-cold theme we learned from The Sure Thing isn't as prevalent as we thought.

(2) Where are the Northwest and Midwest in all this? Chicago is the only midwestern city in the top 10 , with Chicago suburb Des Plaines coming in at #13 and Minneapolis at #17. Maybe they're all staying home and sledding.

(3) Louisville at #1?

So whether you're heading out for Spring Break, dreaming about it at your desk, or still sleeping off last Monday's Lil' Jon concert on the Boardwalk, here's to a great Spring.

Ken Grobe
Product Content Manager

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March 07, 2007

The New Shape of Local Search

What, you think we'd launch an incomparable, doors-blowing product like AskCity and just leave it out there? We've been whipping up a fresh batch of upgrades, and are ready to announce the latest: search-enabled drawing tools.

If you've used AskCity already (or read our launch announcement), you know that it incorporates a drawing palette.

You can mark up any map with lines, circles, polygons, etc. and send the marked-up map to friends.

But now, you can use those drawing tools to focus your search on a specific area. Just draw your shape around the area you want to search and click on the magnifying glass to open a search window.

The square, circle and polygon tools let you create the shape you'll search within.

The line tool lets you search a single street, no matter how long or short it is.

You can even use the shapes to outline several areas, and do separate searches on each. It's a handy tool for searching when you know what area you're looking in, but don't know the name of what you're looking for.


Circling the Perfect Bean

Say a friend tells you about a great but hard-to-find coffee place--but all she remembers is that it's at the intersection of Gough & Fell Streets. So you circle the intersection and search it:

AskCity returns two options within the area you've circled...

…and by using AskCity's close-up and aerial photo functions, you see that one option is right on Gough Street…and the other is on Linden, a tiny side-street just off the intersection. Hard to find? Not anymore.

We search-enabled the AskCity drawing tools to make your local searches quicker, more accurate, and in a lot of cases, easier. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

--The AskCity Team

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March 02, 2007

Catch the Earthquake Last Night?

We did. And we've got the data to prove it.

Our Ask Earthquake Search product has been available for some time, and we check it every time there's a 'quake nearby. After running for cover, of course.

Last night's 4.2 literally hit home. Here in the Bay Area, silverware rattled and futons loosened at the joints. When we came in this morning, however, we discovered the real damage:

We just got the thing, too! Damn these acts of nature!

--The Ask.com team

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March 01, 2007

March Smart Answers

And the Smart Answers just keep on coming! Check out our latest ones, not to mention a few you won't want to start March without:

Recently Added Smart Answers

-Presidential Candidates. Who's running? What's the latest news? Find out here.
-U.S. Senators and Representatives. Find out who's representing your state and get bios on each one.
-March Madness. Foam-finger office-pool-betting bracket-y good times are just ahead! (We also have Smart Answers for your favorite teams).
-Children's books. Check our our Smart Answer for the International Children's Digital Library.
-New and improved Abe Lincoln and Shakespeare Smart Answers. Now with links to entire online libraries of their work.

Smart Answers for Important March Dates

3/2; Texas Independence Day. Also Dr. Seuss's birthday.
3/3: Alexander Graham Bell's birthday, 1847.
3/4: Purim begins.
3/5: John Belushi & Patsy Cline die. Yet Andy Gibb is born. Where is the justice?
3/9: The Notorious B.I.G. dies.
3/11: Daylight Saving Time begins.
3/14: Einstein's birthday.
3/17: St. Patrick's Day. Got plans yet?
3/22: William Shatner's birthday. That's right, people: 1931.
3/24: Harry Houdini's birthday
3/25: Aretha's & Elton's birthdays.
3/27: FDA approves Viagra back in 1998. Pfizer probably flies their flags at full mast today.
3/31: Oscar-favorites Al Gore & Christopher Walken celebrate birthdays.


As an added bonus, please enjoy these Brit-specific Smart Answers from our UK office:

3/1: St. David's Day.
3/18: Mothering Sunday, AKA UK Mother's Day.

Plus, there's all the March UK sporting events you can shake a wicket at: The Cricket World Cup, the conclusion of the Rugby Union Six Nations Championship, the start of Formula One 2007 and more.

Ask.com: we're coming in like a lion, and going out like…well, another lion. A bigger one. Happy March!

--The Ask.com Smart Answers 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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