Mar 312006
 

Ask has changed its image lately and added some new tools. The butler was killed off in favor of a new, clean interface (as stated in my last post) with only a Search Tools panel on the right side separating it from Google’s clean interface.

Also, now when you do a search there is a pair of binoculars next to the search results so that you can take a snapshot look at the homepage of a website with out actually going there. This will be helpful for those who don’t wish to be trapped on slow loading sites.

Anyway, its worth checking out. All you had to do was Ask.

Feb 272006
 

Well, the butler did it, or apparently didn’t do it according to Ask. Formerly, AskJeeves.com is now just Ask. Well, just ask, Ask. The butler couldn’t cut the mustard (or Colonel Mustard), so he finally got the ax. Ask, has a whole new cleaner interface now with a fresh new look and a Search Tools sidebar, which introduces their main offerings.

In addition, Ask is axing Teoma as well and will redirect traffic to their ask.com website in the near future. Why is Ask axing for such trouble? Well, it’s a re-branding effort in order to regarded as a serious search contender along with Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Will it work? One has only to ask Ask because Jeeves is no longer available for questioning. But if you ask Ask, you’ll also find it is offering new Maps and Driving Directions, Encyclopedia Search and Web-based Desktop Search.

Will this new re-branding effort actually succeed? If you believe in the “Do Ask Do Tell” philosophy, it most certainly will. The butler didn’t do it. Likely story.

Nov 032005
 

The Little Engine That Could, AskJeeves has upgraded their desktop search application. One of the most interesting aspects of this upgrade is not the upgrade itself but how they define search on the desktop versus search on the web.

According to Jeeves, search on the web involves some sort of “social relevance” to put results in perspective. Search on the desktop can be a much harder task for the search engine companies since it usually involves some sort of “personal relevance” to the user. What this means is that on the web, results are refined due to a feedback loop and input from many users who form a social group.

For desktop search, there is not this kind of social group as it may be only one person and the feedback loop is limited. Delivering results on a desktop search can be quite a task considering a search application and algorithm has to guess at what is personally relevant to you.

Time is also a consideration in desktop search. Are you searching for a recent document, or the same document over and over or one from sometime in the past? It will be interesting if one day the search engines (if they’re not already doing this) use some sort of behavior profiling on the desktop, where users search behaviors are stored, mapped and over time, the search appliance reacts to a user’s standard set of behaviors in order to deliver personally relevant results.

Anyway, it looks like AskJeeves is on the right track with this upgrade, especially with the Folder Indexing Preferences feature where the user gets to choose what to index. They have a few other enhancements that Jeeves fans will enjoy as well.

Jul 282005
 

AskJeeves is rolling out its keyword-based advertiser program on Monday, August 1, 2005 in the first move to break away from a dependence upon Google ads for revenue. Even though the Ask network receives 70-percent of the revenue from the Google ads displayed upon the AskJeeves pages, the extra 30-percent would be a boon to this underdog search engine.

AskJeeves has a contract with Google until 2007 for the delivery of ads upon their search engine results pages. The new AskJeeves ads, however, until that time will be displayed above the Google ads, generating better click-through rates.

But the AskJeeves and its keyword-based advertising program also has some more ambitious goals. According to the MyWay website, “Jeeves will syndicate its ads onto other sites, including InfoSpace Inc. (INSP)’s (INSP) Dogpile, CNET Networks Inc. (CNET)’s (CNET) Search.com and ValueClick Inc. (VCLK)’s (VCLK) Search123.”

Eyeballing the lucrative search engine ad market that Google and Yahoo have cashed in on, AskJeeves is also expected to start delivering ads to its other IAC/InteractiveCorp-owned websites as well. IAC acquired AskJeeves in March 2005 and owns other popular properties such as Expedia.com, CitySearch.com, Hotels.com, TicketMaster.com and Match.com.

Because the search engine marketing cash cow has now grown into an enormous size, its no wonder that the smaller engines want to mark off their stakes (or steaks) as well.

May 202005
 

AskJeeves takes an early summer vacation and buys Excite Europe in an effort to expand its overseas operations. AskJeeves had previously bought the U. S. Excite counterpart in March 2004. Excite is a well-known brand name in the search arena, opening its doors in 1995.

According to the AskJeeves press release, “The acquisition of Excite Europe will extend Ask Jeeves’ ownership of the Excite brand beyond the United States, giving the Company ownership of Excite’s Internet domains throughout Europe as well as control of existing portal offerings in several major European markets including Spain, Italy, France, UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The acquisition provides immediate access to a wealth of resources in the European portal market in terms of users, operations, market knowledge and revenue streams. Ask Jeeves will also have the ability to extend its leading search technology to Excite Europe users.”

AskJeeves still remains a David among the Goliaths of Google, Yahoo! and MSN. However, this has been the year of acquisitions and mergers for the search company. Acquiring Bloglines in February 2005 and then being acquired by IAC/Interactive in late March 2005, AskJeeves continues to aggressively search for a competitive edge against the “Big 3” search giants.

Many top companies have built themselves up through strategic mergers and acquisitions. This may indeed be AskJeeves plan. Scooping up smaller companies with important and beneficial technology is how Adobe has operated and achieved greatness for years. Since AskJeeves, though is the 6th largest global web property, they still have a ways to go in the search engine marathon. But what is clear for 2005, is that AskJeeves is making its move along the track and the Big 3 had better start peeking over their shoulders to see who is coming up from behind.

m4s0n501
May 042005
 

According to an article in MyWay, AskJeeves’ Chief Executive Steve Berkowitz announced that his search engine will be cutting the amount of ads it shows atop the results pages by 31-percent. The report also states, “The company’s tests show that a smaller number of ads boosts the frequency with which people use the site and aids user retention. As such, Jeeves expects the change to help lift query volumes and ad revenue later in the year.”

In the near-term, this will have a negative impact on revenue. But, in the long-term, this move is expected to increase revenues significantly as user satisfaction increases and new visitors come on board. Currently, Google delivers the AskJeeves ads in a contract that runs through 2007.

What a concept! Here’s a company willing to put customer satisfaction first over short-term gains and shareholder satisfaction in order to delay gratification and receive bigger rewards later. Isn’t this the way businesses used to be run before the Me-Generation, Golden Parachutes and CEO salary spikes that put professional athletes’ pay to shame? Anyway, it looks like AskJeeves has decided to do it right and what is so surprising is that this common sense way of doing business should come as any surprise at all.

Mar 232005
 

U. S. media mogul and entrepreneur, Barry Diller is acquiring AskJeeves search engine for $1.85 billion according to the BBC News Online and the LA Times. Diller heads up IAC/InterActive, which is 10 times the size of AskJeeves and owns other popular properties such as Expedia.com, CitySearch.com, Hotels.com, TicketMaster.com and Match.com. So, if you’re looking to take your date on an exciting weekend getaway to a far off city, then a newly integrated AskJeeves may be your place for one-stop shopping to make this happen.

The integration of AskJeeves and the other online properties may just give the Internet’s 4th (or 5th depending upon who you talk to) largest search engine a boost in the search engine wars in relation to Google, Yahoo! and MSN. In addition, having the Ask search engine on the other properties’ website will also undoubtedly boost their marketing efforts and effectiveness.

According to Diller, “AskJeeves was founded almost ten years ago based on the idea that simple text search results alone are not sufficient or satisfying – but, rather, that consumers want answers to questions – and questions posed in natural language and answered with spot-on accuracy were especially desired and appealing … we believe that in the future it has the potential to become one of the great brands on the Internet and beyond, and by beyond we mean in wireless, in the search for anything on any device.”

AskJeeves and its quirky butler logo was named for a P. G. Wodehouse character. According to the Jeeves website, “P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) was the creator of, among others, the original and immortal Jeeves (the archetypal ‘gentleman’s gentleman’) and his master Bertie Wooster. Affectionately known as Plum, Wodehouse is widely regarded as one of the greatest humorists of the 20th century, and is read and loved by fans worldwide. His prolific output included nearly 100 novels and collections of short stories, as well as plays, musicals and song lyrics.”

AskJeeves has had many ups and downs over the years. According to the L. A. Times, “Ask Jeeves, named after the butler from P.G. Wodehouse’s stories, has taken employees and investors on a roller coaster ride since its founding a decade ago during the start of the dot.com boom. It’s stock once soared above $100 a share, but came crashing down below $1 during the dot.com bust.”

Steve Berkowitz will continue to head up the AskJeeves property in his role as CEO. He has stated that joining IAC/InterActive will give his company the financial backing to compete with the Big 3 search engines. Upon the announcement of the acquisition, AskJeeves shares jumped 15-percent. Its too bad that I just got a few stains on my new AskJeeves “I Love Bloglines” t-shirt as this could have been worth something, someday.

Mar 052005
 

In the department of “Where are they now?” Lycos has reared its head to announce that they have selected AskJeeves to supply them with search technology, replacing the Yahoo Inktomi technology they are currently using. Lycos, which was once one of the big powerhouse search engines, has in recent years been but a blip on the SE radar screen.

AskJeeves also serves up search technology to other online properties such as InfoSpace, BellSouth, Mamma.com and CNET Networks. Shares of AskJeeves rose 2-percent on the news of the Lycos deal.

Lycos is also heavily promoting its Lycos Dating Search which they hope will be a Next Big Thing in search given the popularity of dating sites within the last couple of years. With the dating search one can search many different dating sits simultaneously by geographic location.

The current Lycos search is very sub-par in my opinion. By performing a search for my favorite keyword-phrase “funny t-shirts” the results returned include sponsored links, 11 of them, that come up first, then 10 organic listings and 1 sponsored link at the bottom of the organic listings for good measure. This high percentage of PPC advertising and the placement of those ads, makes Lycos search very irrelevant at least for the searches I conduct.

Hopefully, by switching to AskJeeves, and reorganizing their results pages, Lycos can bring relevance back to their SERP’s, putting their customers first and advertisers second. Putting the customer first – what a concept. It may just work for Lycos if they choose to go down that road.

Feb 082005
 

AskJeeves has bought BlogLines.com, which is a comprehensive, integrated service for searching, subscribing, publishing and sharing news feeds, blogs, and rich Web content. The services is similar to Google’s Blogger.com so the “No search engine left behind” agenda continues.

While AskJeeves tends to be a follower, rather than a leader, they have a strong following of loyal Jeevers who want to see them become the fourth major player in the search engine wars. Even though AskJeeves may not be the first to grab hold of new trends and technology, they do make some strong moves in competing with the Big Guys and buying BlogLines is one of them.

According to the AskJeeves blog, if you are one of the first 200 people to send them a email, you’ll receive a free “I Love Bloglines” t-shirt.

In other news, I’ve come across a great new website that is actively looking for writers, artists, photographers and musicians to contribute and get paid for their works. Yes, paid!

Check out Freelance Writers Market Resource Self Publishing Provider – Associated Content for more information on submitting your work and getting paid for it.

Feb 032005
 

Like other blogs before it, AskJeeves has busted into the blogging arena. Erik Collier, Data Engineering Manager, has posted the first of many blog articles (blarticles?) giving a little history of AskJeeves and talking about the company’s recent move to downtown Oakland, California.

Included in the blarticle are photos of the new AskJeeves facility and surrounding area. The AskJeeves blog has a hip and informative feel about it and rivals the looks and feel of the Yahoo! blog while clearly outdoing the Google blog (which is odd since google own blogger.com but doesn’t appear to use it in their blog).

The Yahoo! blog has their own Erik as well as Erik Gunther, Yahoo! Buzz Index Editor weighs in on Sundance searching and even Google has their own form of Erik, though, spelled “Eric” as one blog entry says “Thanks, Eric!” for his contribution.

Also of note is that AskJeeves has joined in and uses the rel=”nofollow” tag on their comments entries which the other big players have also recently implemented. This tag discourages blog spamming from hit and runners who like to seed their Viagra (or whatever) links all over the Internet.

Anyway, the AskJeeves blog is worth checking out and hopefully more information about the company and the products that are in the pipeline will follow.