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May 25, 2007

Gone Fishing

Sure, we're busting our collective rears on a daily basis at Ask.com, but that doesn't mean we can't help out some great kids and have a little fun from time to time. This past Thursday, Ask.com sponsored the East Bay Regional Park District's Fishing Derby for Special Kids.

Lake Temescal Park in Oakland hosted almost a hundred and fifty kids from elementary schools around the area for a day of fishing, face painting, and all around fun. Ask provided the kids with, among other things, baby-blue baseball caps and a few dozen Ask.commers to lend their support.



Some of us manned the Arts & Crafts stalls, some painted faces, and some of us palled around with the kids, playing catch, taking boat rides, and helping them fish. And a special few took turns entertaining the kids in a pair of clown suits that just HAPPENED to turn up.



The day ended with hot dogs, hamburgers, and awards for the biggest--and smallest--fish caught. We had a great time, but more important, we helped to give a lot of awesome kids a superb day in the park. Nothing beats that.


--The Ask.com Team

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May 13, 2007

Ask Mobile GPS: The Next Level of Local

Got a GPS-enabled Sprint phone? You lucky devils. Odds are that means you can get Ask Mobile GPS.

Ask Mobile GPS is the first interactive, GPS-enabled application that not only puts the best of Ask.com, Citysearch and Evite on your phone, but adds GPS to give your phone the kind of power and connectivity you'd expect from your computer. Predictive text and automatic suggestions make sure you get what you want with the fewest keystrokes possible.

Here's a mobile app that genuinely makes your life easier when you're away from home. Ask Mobile GPS is a genuine extension of everything you'd want a phone or a PDA to do. If you've been looking for a true "lifestyle application" (whether or not you'd ever use that term in public) for your mobile phone, well, you've found it.

Here, in brief, is what Ask Mobile GPS offers:

Share My Location




You can use Ask Mobile GPS to broadcast your location to anyone in your phone's address book. Don't know your location? No problem--Ask Mobile GPS does. Friend doesn't have Sprint? Also no problem. You can send them an SMS with a link to a map and driving directions.

















A simple name for a powerful service, Directions gives you audible driving (or walking) directions in real-time. It's a complete turn-by-turn navigation system that talks to you, so you can keep your eyes on the road. Navigate to restaurants, airports, and more. You can even save destinations to create your own personalized list of directions to favorite places.





Just what the title says: It's Citysearch on your phone. Find top-rated businesses closest to you, and read editorial and user reviews right from your phone. Plus, the GPS function will recommend other places, other neighborhoods, other possibilities, all near your current location.

My Evites




View your Evite invitations while you're out and about. Find out where the party is and who is going to be there. You'll never again have to print out directions to an Evite event!

Saved Places




Save your home address and any other favorite places, giving you instant shortcuts to your most used addresses.

Find out more about the service--including which Sprint phones support it and how to get started--at gps.ask.com. Expect to hear a lot more about this service in the coming days and weeks. And feel free to comment on it below!

--The Ask Mobile Team

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May 08, 2007

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Gary Price

May is turning into a truly memorable month here at Ask.com. Sure, there was our TV campaign launch, winning the Webby for Mobile, and enjoying three consecutive days of sterling weather here in the Bay Area. But easily the development that is nearest and dearest to our hearts occurred just over the weekend, when The lovely Lisa Cohen walked the aisle with Our Director of Online Information Resources, Gary Price, and made an honest man of him.

The wedding took place in Lincolnshire, IL, and the happy couple were surrounded by friends and family who came from far and wide. There was no shortage of SEOrati among the guest list, which included Danny Sullivan, RustyBrick (Barry Schwartz), Chris Sherman, and Greg Notess. In attendence from Ask.com were Erik Collier, Ryan Massie, Howard Steinberg, Patrick Crisp, and Scott Grieder.


Gary's even taken time off of his 2007 tour to give his Mrs. the honeymoon she deserves: a romantic whirlwind trip thorugh Italy where nearly every hotel they're staying, Gary boasted to us, has Wi-Fi access. Congratulations and Mazel Tov to the happy couple from all of us at Ask.com.

Lisa and Gary Price - Mazel Tov!

Photos & Video by Scott Grieder

--The Ask.com Team

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May 07, 2007

Moms, Mars, and Mr. T: May Smart Answers.

It's a month of nice weather, hockey playoffs, and a lot more. Let's get right to the May Smart Answers:

New Smart Answers:

State quarters and state seals. Prepare to ace that Social Studies test!

Weight on other planets. For instance, 150 lbs. on earth = just 9 lbs on Pluto.

NHL hockey playoffs, access to all the info you'll need to keep up.

Results of historic games, like the 1974 Stanley Cup final.

Smart Answers for May Dates:

5/1: May Day
5/3: James Brown, Golda Meir. Now that's a double-birthday-party I would've paid good money to see.
5/4: Audrey Hepburn
5/5: Cinco de Mayo
5/8: President Harry Truman
5/12: Burt Bacharach, George Carlin, Katharine Hepburn, Florence Nightingale
5/13: Mother's Day
5/14: George Lucas
5/18: Pope John Paul II, Frank Capra
5/19: Malcom X, Pete Townsend
5/20: Cher
5/21: Mr. T
5/24: Bob Dylan
5/26: Al Jolson, Stevie Nicks
5/27: Golden Gate Bridge opened; Henry Kissinger
5/28: Memorial Day
5/29: Bob Hope, JFK
5/30: Mel Blanc
5/31: Clint Eastwood

More...next month!

--The Ask.com Smart Answers Team

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May 04, 2007

On Winning the Webby for Best Mobile Site

Did you read the news this week? The results are in and we won! Ask Mobile grabbed not only the Webby Award for best mobile site, but the People's Voice award in the Mobile category too! It feels pretty good to be recognized by our peers and by the folks who use Ask Mobile as well.

I only recently took over the helm of the bullet train that is Ask Mobile, so I can't take ALL the credit for our big win.

Here begins the thank you speech:

Mad props to Andy Yang, the original Ask Mobile Product Manager, who took this from a glimmer in his eye to the site we love today. Of course, he couldn't have done it without the help of the company that constructed it with us, WaveMarket.

And all due credit to Michael Ferguson, our Senior User Experience Analyst. He made the recommendation that Ask.com Mobile--a product from a search engine company--shouldn't have a search box on the front page! The concept felt like it went against everything we knew to be right. Until we really thought about it:

The key to a great mobile experience is getting the information you need with the FEWEST possible keystrokes. So that's what we built. Once you're at Ask Mobile, press "2" on your phone and you are instantly to place that you can get driving (and walking!) directions. Hit "6" and you're taken right to our weather service. For those of you on the road, hit "9" for next page and then two for currency conversion, or "4" for international time zone information. Still need web search? No problem, hit "0" for home and "1" for the trusty search box.

Okay, lightning round: a big thanks to Yitao Guan from Site Engineering, Charlise Tiee and Steve Orr from our Knowledge Engineering, and the rest of the team. And of course, YOU, our search audience. Especially the folks who voted for us!

There. As acceptance speeches go that wasn't so bad, was it? No one did a one-armed push-up or anything.

We knew we had something and it looks like the Webby judges and the voting public agree. Thank you all very much.

--Brendan Hallett
Product Manager, Mobile

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May 03, 2007

The Algorithm is On The Move

Ignorance is bliss.

If you get great search results, you don’t care why or how you got them.

But for more than 80% of searches, there can be more than one right answer. And even when there is one right answer, there’s more than one way of getting you there, understanding those results, or getting ideas for alternative searches. For these searches, the editorial voice of your search engine matters. Search isn’t the commodity it may, at times, seem to be.

In search, this voice is manifested in the form of an “algorithm,” a strange, funny, and--for most people--wholly unfamiliar term.

Many of you who read this blog already know what an algorithm is, and how it separates good searches from the better ones. But your friends probably don’t. Thanks to the work of the Ask marketing team and our new ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, however, that’s about to change.

You might know CPB for their superfun and standout ad campaigns for Volkswagen and Burger King (including my favorite, the Subservient Chicken viral).We've been working with them to create a campaign that champions "The Algorithm" and how it brings good search to life--from plain old “ten blue links” to popular, algorithm-driven features such as Smart Answers and Zoom related search.

No, the campaign won’t go into detail about how an algorithm actually works. We don’t want to make people’s heads explode. We just want them to know there’s something in there--think Intel Inside, Verizon’s Network, Dodge’s Hemi…heck, even VW’s Fahrvergnugen--that’s different and working to make search better for you.

You may have heard about our recent outdoor ads, which kicked off the campaign with some teaser billboards about the Algorithm. Soon, you'll start seeing our new TV spots in a
whole lot of places, from major networks to cable, from morning to prime time to late night.

So ready or not world, here comes the Algorithm, soon to take its rightful place as a household word, once and for all.

--Greg Ott
VP, Marketing

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