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April 25, 2007

Introducing ASL Contextual Advertising

It's no longer a rumor and definitely not a beta launch. Today's announcement of the Ask Sponsored Listings contextual product is the real deal. First came Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) 1.0 in August, 2005. Next came ASL 2.0 in October, 2006. Now comes the next innovative product offering with the Ask Sponsored Listings contextual product launching in less than four weeks.

How is this product different from our competitors, you ask? Three important reasons, each one a paradigm shift:

* It gives publishers more control over yield and relevancy
* It gives publishers more creative ad unit opportunities
* It allows both advertisers and publishers more control over where and what ads are displayed

We'll be working with publishers to customize their implementations with some of the following options:

* New customized relevancy thresholds for publishers
* Innovative yield management thresholds that allow publishers to optimize their monetization efforts

You won't find the standard white background with text ads. Our hybrid text + graphical contextual units will offer a fresh new look to performance based contextual advertising.

Back to the labs for us. Stay tuned for more new product updates from the Search Marketing product team.


Paul Vallez,
Director of Product Management
Search Marketing
IAC Advertising Solutions

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Our Neighbors, the Golden State Warriors

Congratulations to our favorite come-from-behind Cinderella team, the Golden State Warriors, on their series-leading victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Well, you know them as the Warriors--we call them our neighbors. The Ask.com building is right next door to their practice stadium.

...And in case you still don't believe us, here's the Map:

They're playing the Mavericks tonight at 9:30 EST. Take it to 'em, B-diddy!

--The Ask.com Team

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April 23, 2007

Wii's and We at Web 2.0

One nice thing about red being our primary color: it's easy to spot in a crowd. The inaugural Web 2.0 Expo was packed with every online player known to man (if by "man" you mean John Battelle or Pete Cashmore), but you couldn't miss the luxurious Ask.com booth.

The two Ask.com panels gave us a chance to do what we love to do: entertain and educate at the same time.

Daniel Read's "Search for Inspiration" presentation gave folks an exclusive peek at the process behind creating AskX. He also announced (1) that AskX would be the next iteration of the Ask.com search engine, and (2) that it would be combined with the new Edison Algorithm, which you may have heard about already.


Doug Leeds put on "Expert Tease," a live game show with much interaction from the audience. He showed the crowd why you get better results from experts who have been identified by the community,
as opposed to experts who are self-identified (not unlike a certain popular search algorithm).

With 2.0 trivia subjects like "Usability," "Social Networking," and "Valley Blossip," Doug kept his audience (and panel of audience-picked experts) entertained and laughing for the full hour.

Of course, the fact that he gave away ten Wii's might've helped.

Great fun all told. See you next year!

--The Ask.com Team

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April 16, 2007

How You're using Ask City: 4 Months In

When we first revealed sample data from our AskCity local search product, two weeks after launch, it received a lot of positive attention from folks like Greg Sterling and WebProNews. Someone even requested to see AskCity data on a weekly basis. But we decided to hold off until we had collected a more substantial amount of data, made some behind-the-scenes updates, and launched a new feature or two.

Now, by popular demand, let's take a look at how people have used it these past four months:


1. Restaurants
2. Hotels
3. Churches
4. Banks & credit unions
5. Car dealers
6. Lawyers/attorneys
7. Family doctor
8. Furniture dealers
9. Children & Daycare
10. Hair salons

This top ten changed quite a bit from the previous post--only Churches, Attorneys, and Family Doctors appeared in both. As for the current Top Three, Restaurants and Hotels I can understand--new ones open up often, and people rarely go to the same one twice in a row--but since when do people forget where their churches are?


1. American
2. Italian
3. Pizza
4. Seafood
5. Mexican
6. Chinese restaurants
7. Japanese/sushi
8. Fast Food
9. Steakhouse
10. Hamburger restaurants

What's for dinner? American food, apparently. Even in our first check-in, it was #3 behind Italian and Pizza. I don't think that's because so many people decide, "Let's eat American tonight" before searching; more likely it's because "American" is one of the most common options in the "Related Categories" part of the interface.

Just a click lets you narrow or expand your local choices using entire cuisines.

How else are you going to discover four-star Vietnamese restaurants in Worcester? It's like speed-dial for foodies.

This also probably explains why Italian and Pizza were also in the Top Three both times: search on one and you'll get the other in the Related Categories.

Of course, with all this great functionality, isn't it a little disturbing that most people still chose "American"? Come on, people. Eat a falafel or something. Live a little.


1. Concerts
2. Art and Museums
3. Sporting Event
4. Festivals
5. Plays/musicals
6. Rock and Pop
7. Theatre
8. Parades
9. Fairs
10 Jazz and Blues

Now that the weather is warming up, expect Parades and Fairs to hike up the charts. And since Baseball season's upon us, look for Sporting Events to climb one or maybe even two notches. One way or another, if you're looking for an excuse to get away from your computer, start here.


1. Blue Man Group
2. Hannah Montana
3. The Police
4. Jamie Foxx
5. Fall Out Boy
6. Rod stewart
7. Akon
8. Gwen Stefani
9. Katt Williams
10. My Chemical Romance

It's interesting to see which acts Ask.com users consider to be hot tickets, compared to, say, Pollstar's top concert draws. Blue Man Group, for instance? Yep, turns out they're touring. And am I the last person to know that Hannah Montana is Billy Ray Cyrus's daughter? Hasn't that man caused enough suffering?

And there it is: your fresh new taste of AskCity data. Interested in seeing another one farther down the line? Let us know in the comments.

Ken Grobe
Product Content Manager

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April 13, 2007

Checking (Gary) Price

Regular Ask Blog readers may know Gary Price as Ask.com's Director of Online Information Resources. Reference and information junkies may know him as the founder of ResourceShelf and Docuticker. SEO acolytes may know him from his book The Invisible Web (co-authored with Chris Sherman), or his recent interview in Search Engine Watch. And he's known to librarians and educators worldwide as an expert on search and research techniques.

But if you don't know him yet, get ready...because he's COMING TO YOUR TOWN!

Here's your chance to learn at the feet of the master as Gary waxes eloquent on:

- The latest search tools
- Gary's favorite online resources
- The best ways to use them per your profession

And get those lighters ready!


Live! in Conference

Some of Gary's appearances may be at events that charge admission and/or are closed to the public. But he's also available to your office, school or library for for live online webinars to show you how to:

- Find the coolest online tools
- Improve your search skills
- Make the most of your library's resources and services

Want to know more about setting up a webinar with Gary? Drop us a line.


--The Ask.com Team

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April 11, 2007

Sitemaps Autodiscovery

Today, Ask.com, Google, Microsoft Live Search and Yahoo! together are announcing support of “autodiscovery” of Sitemaps. The new open-format autodiscovery allows webmasters to specify the location of their Sitemaps within their robots.txt file, eliminating the need to submit sitemaps to each search engine separately.

Comprehensiveness and freshness are key initiatives for every search engine, and with autodiscovery of sitemaps, everyone wins:

· Webmasters save time with the ability to universally submit their content to the search engines and benefit from reduced unnecessary traffic by the crawlers
· The search engines get information with regards to pages to index as well as metadata with clues about which pages are newly updated and which pages are identified as the most important
· Searchers benefit from improved search experience with better comprehensiveness and freshness

In addition, Ask.com is now supporting submission of Sitemaps via http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=SitemapUrl.

Of course, neither autodiscovery nor manual submission guarantee pages will be added to the index. The pages must meet our quality criteria for inclusion in the index. And use of these submission methods does not influence ranking.

I will be talking about today’s announcement (along with my counterparts at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!) during the SiteMaps and Site Submission session at SES in New York later this morning. If you aren’t able to join us, more information is available at http://www.sitemaps.org and http://about.ask.com/en/docs/about/webmasters.shtml#22.

We are excited about our participation with the Sitemaps via robots.txt protocol and look forward to our collaboration with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and others in furthering important initiatives that make search easier for webmasters and more powerful for users.

Vivek Pathak
Infrastructure Product Manager

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April 06, 2007

Ask.com at SES New York 2007

© 2007 Incisive Interactive
Marketing LLC

Going to New York for the quarterly Search Engine Strategies 2007 Conference & Expo? If you're looking for the Ask.com presence at SES, you'll find it pretty much all over--we're huge fans of this conference and regular sponsors. Visit our booth (#2015 in Americas Hall II) and stop by the following panels:

Wednesday, April 11

10:30am – 12:00pm
Sitemaps & URL Submission
Vivek Pathak, Infrastructure Product Manager, Ask.com

1:30am – 2:45pm
Meet The Search Ad Networks
James Speer, GM Search Marketing, IAC Advertising Solutions

1:30am – 2:45pm
Duplicate Content & Multiple Site Issues
Vivek Pathak, Infrastructure Product Manager, Ask.com

4:45pm – 6:00pm
Robots.txt Summit
Keith Hogan, VP Search Technology, Ask.com

Thursday, April 12

9:00am – 10:15am
Social Search Overview
Kaushal Kurapati, Director, Search Quality, Ask.com

If you're going, you might want to bring a rain jacket. And toss one back at the Russian Vodka Room for us.

--The Ask.com Team


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April 03, 2007

Taxes, SES and Starlets: April Smart Answers

Lots going on this month on the Smart Answers front, so let's get right to it:


Recently Added Smart Answers:

- Search Engine Strategies 2007. Familiar with this important search industry gathering? The next one is April 10-13 in New York City.
- Taxes. They're due April 17th this year, you know. We have Smart Answers for both the Federal and State levels, fully updated with the latest info.
- NCAA Basketball Tournament history. Whether it's the madness from last year or twenty years ago, now you can credit Smart Answers with the assist.


Smart Answers for Important April Dates:

4/1: April Fool's Day. Also Lon Chaney's Birthday.
4/2. Marvin Gaye's Birthday.
4/3: First Day of Passover.
4/4: Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth's home-run record, 1974.
4/6: Good Friday.
4/7: Francis Ford Coppola's birthday. Also Billie Holiday and John Oates.
4/8: Easter Sunday.
4/9: Hugh Hefner's Birthday.
4/14: The Titanic hits an iceberg.
4/15: The first McDonalds opens.
4/18: The great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
4/22: Earth Day. Fun fact: Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI).
4/23: Yom Haatzmaut, a.k.a. Israel's Independence Day.
  4/25: Administrative Professionals Day. Call them "secretaries" and you're in for a world of lost mail.
4/27: A special long-distance Arbor Day dedication to birthday boy Casey Kasem.
4/28: Birthdays for Jessica Alba, Penelope Cruz, Ann-Margret and Kari Wuhrer. We should just make it "National Starlets Day."
4/29: Birthdays for Tommy James, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jerry Seinfeld.


See you next month!

--The Ask.com Smart Answers Team

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April 01, 2007

Jim Lanzone Video Announcement

Sorry for the Sunday posting, folks, but we wanted to announce before the press got wind of it.

We've had a company-changing development happen over the last few days, and we're finally at a point where we can tell you about it. For the details, check out this video announcement from Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone.

--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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