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Live Q&A Session with Jim Lanzone, VP of Ask Jeeves


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#1 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 02:07 PM

We have the privilege to have a live question and answer session with Jim Lanzone, Senior Vice President, Search Properties at Ask Jeeves.

So go ahead and ask your questions now. Jim will be popping in and out answering your questions, starting Sunday or Monday. Please be kind. :)

#2 bwelford

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 02:21 PM

Thank you indeed for giving us this opportunity and welcome to the Forums.

I believe you are likely to be retiring Jeeves and putting the effort behind the ASK name, for which you already have the domain. My favourite mantra is 'Focus, Focus, Focus' so I heartily applaud this move. Presumably the Teoma 'brand' would become absorbed within the new entity.

I've always had a problem with the multi-brand strategy that your company has adopted. Of course you should never kill off cash cows that are making good money, but you could put all the emphasis on ASK and let it gradually take over.

There may be limits on what you wish to divulge since the competition is probably watching. However is there any second thinking about the multi-brand strategy?

#3 randfish

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 02:31 PM

Jim,

First let me say that I really appreciate you taking the time to speak openly with all of us.

My question focuses on Ask's use of "nofollow". When I was in NYC for SES, I had heard from the Ask representative (I believe it was Rahul Lahiri) that Ask ignores the "nofollow" attribute in links. Earlier this month, however, I was on a panel with Keith Hogan (also of Ask) who I recall interjected at one point that Ask does do "something" with the "nofollow" tag on links.

Could you clear up Ask/Teoma's position on how this is used?

Thanks much!

#4 bragadocchio

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 03:36 PM

Thanks, Jim.

It's a real pleasure to have you join us.

We've seen Ask grow over the past few years with the addition of other web properties. These include companies like DirectHit, Octopus Software, eTour, Teoma, Interactive Search Holding (Excite, MyWay, Iwon,etc.), and Bloglines.

I'm sure that the addition of each has seen its share of challenges, benefits, and risks. We know from your official Bio that you were originally with eTour.

Can you tell us a little about some of the operational challenges Ask faced in bringing some of these companies together? Things like different privacy policies on web sites, and company policies towards employees and customers, bringing together employees in different parts of the country, and so on.

Some of the benefits that they have brought to Ask?

Of course, I'm also going to ask about some of the risks, for instance, some of the recent online conversations about Ask Toolbars have had people questioning the lack of consent in downloads of that software.

Thanks.

#5 Brad

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 04:17 PM

Jim,

It is great of you to agree to stop by cre8! Two questions:

Are there any plans to offer free web based email and IM from the Ask.com site?

#6 bragadocchio

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 05:47 PM

Nice weekend to visit us, Jim.

John Battelle just wrote about some new functionality from Ask on his blog: Ask Launches New Zoom and Answering Services. There are some comments there, including one from Dr. Jakob Nielson, and a response from you.

We look at a lot of usability issues over here in addition to Search Issues. I'm sure a lot of our visitors would like to hear a little more about the usability testing that was done to come up with where you place the features on the pages. It sounds like some eyetracking was done. Any other methods? Did the usability testing play a part in the decision to highlight answers in addition to query terms?

Again, thanks.

#7 Guest_JimLanzone_*

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 05:57 PM

Hey everyone. I'm getting the kids in the car to take off for the weekend (my wife is telling me to get off the computer...can anyone relate?) but as Rusty said I will be checking in and answering your questions all weekend, though more so on Monday than let's say tonight or tomorrow. I really appreciate everyone taking the time and promise to get to all of them in some way, shape or form.

Jim

ps - Barry you look so tough in that pic, like you could really hurt me if you wanted to. Can you take one of me like that at SES?

#8 Black_Phoenix

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 06:34 PM

Hi, I relate, have a good time, look forward to the future posts :)

bp

#9 Ruud

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 07:33 PM

Hi Jim,

As always to new visitors; welcome to the forum! Good to have you over.

As mentioned, Ask acquired quite a lot of property. From my point of view the most interesting one has been Bloglines. Together with the Ask toolbar it suggests to me that Ask could go after the individual consumer more and more.

Is Ask working towards, or planning to, pervading the individual consumer world by offering non-search related tools which will be used on a regular basis?

#10 rbester

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 02:17 PM

Hi Jim and everybody,

It's nice of you to be here. Your presence has motivated me to register to Cre8asite and participate for the first time although I have visited these forums dozens of times before and read many discussions.

I'll get right to the question.. One of my sites used to be listed in Ask Jeeves / Teoma engines in the times that paid inclusion was still there. I remember paying for 3 or 4 pages to be included which got those pages listed right away. After a while your crawler found my entire site and the rest of its pages were also included in your index.

After paid inclusion seized to exist my site was still fully crawled and listed in both Ask and Teoma for several months. One day my domain completely disappeared from your results. It seems to me that for some reason it was blacklisted. Until today my site is not listed at Ask / Teoma. I find it odd since my site is quite popular and it shows thousands of backlinks in other major search engines.

I tried sending several emails to Ask.com contacts but never received an answer. I will very much appreciate it if you could assist me in getting my site listed again in your index or at least help me get the answers as to why it was banned.

10x.

rbester

#11 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 08:24 PM

ps - Barry you look so tough in that pic, like you could really hurt me if you wanted to. Can you take one of me like that at SES?


I took that picture when I was dissatisfied by the quality of search results at a competitor of yours. ;)

#12 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 02:32 PM

I am told that Jim should be here shortly. Some time this afternoon (Monday), I like PST time.

#13 JimLanzone

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 06:01 PM

I've always had a problem with the multi-brand strategy that your company has adopted. Of course you should never kill off cash cows that are making good money, but you could put all the emphasis on ASK and let it gradually take over.  

There may be limits on what you wish to divulge since the competition is probably watching. However is there any second thinking about the multi-brand strategy


Barry: I can't make any comments on our future plans right now, but let me make a few general comments.

Focus is right, absolutely. But I disagree that a multi-brand strategy means lack of focus for a company and inherently causes confusion for consumers. A multi-brand strategy can be an asset if operated the right way: unique value propositions and unique targets. It can be a strength precisely because you arenít restricted, in consumers minds, by the meaning of a single brand, so the individual brands can become stronger in their markets.

Our CEO, Steve Berkowitz, was previously president of a very successful company Ė IDG Books Ė that owned multiple brands like Dummies, Cliff Notes and Frommers. Initially, it was just Dummies. When he acquired Cliff Notes and Frommers, he didnít merge them and call them Dummies Bookcheats and Dummies Travel, because they had a history and meaning for consumers that were distinct from Dummies. I can think of tons of similar examples, like Nike didnít turn Cole Haan into Nike DressUp (DebonAir?).

As with most things, I think it depends on the situation. Combining companies. Combining products or services. Launching new products. Launching brand extensions. In this instance, what youíre recommending Ė consolidation of previously existing brands Ė depends on many of the factors I mentioned above, like value proposition and history. Ask Jeeves and iWon are very different. HotJobs isn't really known as Yahoo Jobs. Meanwhile, it made sense to merge the Overture and Inktomi brands into Yahoo because they were essentially in the same space as the Yahoo brand.

As for the Ask Jeeves vs. Ask.com debate, thatís still speculation at this point and Mr. Diller's comments included saying he wasn't sure what the outcome would be. I can say that as a standalone company, the Jeeves character was a valuable asset for brand recognition, especially when we were low on marketing dollars. With more resources, weíll put our best foot forward as we seek to gain market share against GYM, whatever brand or brands that requires. I will say there have been a lot of interesting blog comments on the topic. What do you guys think?

Can you tell us a little about some of the operational challenges Ask faced in bringing some of these companies together? Things like different privacy policies on web sites, and company policies towards employees and customers, bringing together employees in different parts of the country, and so on.  

Some of the benefits that they have brought to Ask?


Bill:

Well, for starters, Steve Berkowitz has done so many acquisitions in his career that, from Teoma to ISH, the acquisitions heís made at Ask Jeeves have been integrated very, very smoothly from a corporate perspective. Weíve hardly missed a beat.

Operationally, one reason these acquisitions went so well is because most brought something unique to the table. Teoma brought world-class search technology. Tukaroo brought Desktop Search. Bloglines brought the ability to "search, publish, share and subscribe" to blogs and newsfeeds. ISH itself is a massive business in its own right with Smiley Central, iWon, Excite, etc.

In other cases, we might not have made a business of the technology we acquired, but we got some great people who became part of the second generation of Ask Jeeves. Octopus is a good example. We still own the technology, which is very cool, but even more important was the team. They wound up building things like MyJeeves. And their head of technology, Tuoc Luong, is now the EVP of Technology for our whole company. We still have some great people from Direct Hit. And the eTour people weren't so bad either.

Meanwhile, the biggest operational challenge was distance. We wound up with employees all over the country. That took some getting used to, but it turned out to be a positive. Once we got used to working virutally, including a lot of video conferences, it wasn't a problem. And as a company we became location agnostic which has allowed us to hire and retain some important people.

It is great of you to agree to stop by cre8! Two questions:  

Are there any plans to offer free web based email and IM from the Ask.com site?


Brad: Do you want us to offer them? :)

We have no plans to announce. I will say that we have developed an incredibly creative team the past few years, and we have ideas in just about every area of information retrieval and management you can think of. We donít want to spaz out and just turn out product after product just to get headlines, nor do we want to offer something that isnít an improvement over the status quo (e.g., email just for the sake of it). But where it makes strategic sense, and we can meet user needs, we will play in our own unique way.

John Battelle just wrote about some new functionality from Ask on his blog: Ask Launches New Zoom and Answering Services. There are some comments there, including one from Dr. Jakob Nielson, and a response from you.  

We look at a lot of usability issues over here in addition to Search Issues. I'm sure a lot of our visitors would like to hear a little more about the usability testing that was done to come up with where you place the features on the pages. It sounds like some eyetracking was done. Any other methods? Did the usability testing play a part in the decision to highlight answers in addition to query terms?


Bill:

We have always tried to get deep into consumer research, both talking to consumers and in analyzing data and site usage. With consumers, we do everything from basic usability lab to going into people's homes for ethnography studies. And yes, we do eyetracking studies.

Zoom is a good example of fusing several of these bits of research together. We knew from internal data that our old clustering technology, called Related Topics, was our #1 most used feature (aside from web search) for the past three years. We learned why through research: most people do not use advanced search or tabs. That white box is sooooooo easy to get started with, people will make the tradeoff every time and just enter something to get going. This leads to iteration: if someone's initial search is off base, they will simply try again. Related Topics was the way they iterated.

Eyetracking was also revealing. We found that the right side of the page, where our competitors have ads, is a natural "next steps" location for searchers. They evaluate a search results page in an "F" pattern. First down the left side for their results, then to the upper right to iterate if they dont find what they want the first time.

So, we determined both to build the next generation of Related Topics, called Zoom, and to leave Zoom in place in the upper right part of the page. Feedback has been amazing. People love Zooming.

And since you mentioned it, yes, usability played a HUGE part in deciding to highlight answers rather than query terms in the Web Answers product. We found in usability that many people skipped over direct answers placed above the 10 blue links, and automatically headed straight to the 10 blue links for their "answer." So we came up with this UI treatment. In usability, people consistently said, "There. That's the answer right there." They found it every time. We then A/B tested it live on the site, and found that the product improved click-through rate on our top result by over 200%. We knew we had a winner.

As mentioned, Ask acquired quite a lot of property. From my point of view the most interesting one has been Bloglines. Together with the Ask toolbar it suggests to me that Ask could go after the individual consumer more and more.  

Is Ask working towards, or planning to, pervading the individual consumer world by offering non-search related tools which will be used on a regular basis?


Ruud: Everything we do is geared towards finding and managing information. As I say in this post on SearchViews, http://searchviews.c...tions_wit_3.php I view Bloglines as the yin to search's yang. You find it with search, you manage and track it with a service like Bloglines or MyJeeves. Since we were committed to that vision, it made sense to acquire the site, technology and team behind the #1 service in that space. Without being specific for our other plans, I'll just say that we think search is the natural hub for a lot of things. But make no mistake, it all starts with search, and we're not going to take our eye off the ball there. In fact, our biggest innovations recently, from Zoom to Web Answers to Image Search, have been at the core of what we do.

After paid inclusion seized to exist my site was still fully crawled and listed in both Ask and Teoma for several months. One day my domain completely disappeared from your results. It seems to me that for some reason it was blacklisted. Until today my site is not listed at Ask / Teoma. I find it odd since my site is quite popular and it shows thousands of backlinks in other major search engines.


Rbester: What is your site/domain? Just tell us what the site is and we can talk.

My question focuses on Ask's use of "nofollow". When I was in NYC for SES, I had heard from the Ask representative (I believe it was Rahul Lahiri) that Ask ignores the "nofollow" attribute in links. Earlier this month, however, I was on a panel with Keith Hogan (also of Ask) who I recall interjected at one point that Ask does do "something" with the "nofollow" tag on links.


Randfish: I'm going to have Rahul or Keith post on this themselves. Maybe they can duke it out.



#14 bwelford

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 06:50 PM

Jim, thanks for those very complete answers. In one fell swoop, you seem to have answered all the questions and put the ball back in our court. :)

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 08:50 PM

Any comment on rumors on a project called 'Red Carpet'... that could be a comparison shopping engine for IAC and AskJ...?

#16 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 09:01 PM

Thank you Jim, or shall I say, Mr. Gates.

I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, as do the rest of the members.

Thanks again!

#17 bragadocchio

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 09:03 PM

Just a quick administrative note here.

The permissions on this thread were inadvertantly set so that people could post without registering. They've now been changed so that people have to register to post to this forum.

So, mhhfive, if you have any followup comments or questions, you may need to register and log in first before you can post again.

Thanks.

#18 bragadocchio

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 09:51 PM

Jim,

Terrific answers. Thank you for spending so much time to give us some insight into the operations of Ask.

I've been enjoying the Ask Jeeves Blog. I really like that there are a number of different people posting to it, and think it does a nice job of humanizing Ask by giving us a feel for some of the different personalities behind the site.

There are a lot of great technologies out on the web these days. In a question that may not reflect on Ask itself, I wonder if you would share with us some of the sites and technologies that you are finding interesting these days.

#19 rbester

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 01:09 AM

Rbester: What is your site/domain? Just tell us what the site is and we can talk.

search-22.com

Thx!

#20 randfish

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 02:09 AM

Jim,

Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I'm looking forward to hearing from Rahul & Keith. Please let both of them know they did a terrific job speaking at their respective conferences. It was a pleasure to meet them both.

BTW - Since you asked for input, I do believe there is space for innovation in the field of e-mail. Gmail was a step in the right direction in terms of UI, but it certainly is not perfect (far from it). If AskJeeves spends the effort and has the people, I believe e-mail could be a great way for you to generate a big buzz in the search space. After all, superior products in our space tend to get recognized and used much more often than in other sectors. Also, I'd love to see more unique "AJ" features - I'm always thinking about the services a real "Jeeves" would provide and feel like that creative thinking could produce some seriously cool toys - for example, collating search results and suggesting them the way Amazon does with products??

Thanks again!

#21 Brad

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 06:36 AM

>>email

Email seems to me to be the one major piece missing from the AJ lineup. As Randfish says there is great room for improvement in email. As an example: I go to Ask for search, News, MyJeeves (great service that) - I go to Bloglines as a followup for things I find on Ask and darn near a replacement for myYahoo - yet when I need to check email I have to go to Yahoo or Gmail and I loose that connectivity to Ask search and that nice clean Ask look. I would really like to switch away from these other search engines but I keep having to go back to them many times a day for certain essential services like email.

I'm less certain about the IM, it does seem like it is hard to compete unless you have a team on the field.

Thanks a lot for answering questions here at Cre8asite! :)

#22 JimLanzone

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 11:45 PM

I've been enjoying the Ask Jeeves Blog. I really like that there are a number of different people posting to it, and think it does a nice job of humanizing Ask by giving us a feel for some of the different personalities behind the site.  

There are a lot of great technologies out on the web these days. In a question that may not reflect on Ask itself, I wonder if you would share with us some of the sites and technologies that you are finding interesting these days.


Bill: Thanks I'm glad you like the AJ Blog. We have tried to make it more than a pseudo-press release or something to make us seem important. We just want it to be interesting, a place you'll want to click when you see there's a new posting through a service like Bloglines. It's a place to communicate who we are and what we're doing. Don't get me wrong, I admit we use the blog to announce products we're proud of. That's a good reason to blog. But we also do fun stuff like Jeeves9000, which was -- sorry if I'm biased here -- the funniest thing to hit the Web between the Smoking Chimp and Spicy Paris. You'll see it continue to evolve, I'm sure. But it won't lose its cheeky personality.

As for technologies that interest me, that's a big list, and I'm not that keen to disclose it if you know what I mean. :wink:

Quote:  
Rbester: What is your site/domain? Just tell us what the site is and we can talk.  

search-22.com


OK, Mr. Search-22, here's the deal: I advise to make yourself well respected in the community of "search engine" experts, since your site seems to be a metasearch engine of sorts. Remember we have a unique search technology, so what works with GYM will not necessarily work with Ask. And we do not keep pages in our index simply for the sake of size. So keep at it, I'm sure we'll get you in there.

Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I'm looking forward to hearing from Rahul & Keith. Please let both of them know they did a terrific job speaking at their respective conferences. It was a pleasure to meet them both.


Randfish: Rahul will be posting on nofollow shortly. He just got back into town.

After all, superior products in our space tend to get recognized and used much more often than in other sectors.


Randfish: If that we true, more of you would be using Ask Jeeves! You know who you are. Baaaaaa-baaaaaaaa.

Also, I'd love to see more unique "AJ" features


Randfish: More? Beyond Teoma, we've been at the forefront with so many products, from Smart Answers to Binoculars to MyJeeves to Zoom and Web Answers this past week. We even announced Desktop search first. I'm dyin' here.

If AskJeeves spends the effort and has the people, I believe e-mail could be a great way for you to generate a big buzz in the search space.


Randfish: Got it!

I'm always thinking about the services a real "Jeeves" would provide and feel like that creative thinking could produce some seriously cool toys - for example, collating search results and suggesting them the way Amazon does with products??


Randfish: Tell me more? We may be on the same page here but I'm not completely sure.

Email seems to me to be the one major piece missing from the AJ lineup. As Randfish says there is great room for improvement in email. As an example: I go to Ask for search, News, MyJeeves (great service that) - I go to Bloglines as a followup for things I find on Ask and darn near a replacement for myYahoo - yet when I need to check email I have to go to Yahoo or Gmail and I loose that connectivity to Ask search and that nice clean Ask look. I would really like to switch away from these other search engines but I keep having to go back to them many times a day for certain essential services like email.


Brad: Thanks for the input. That's good stuff, and I'm glad to see you're using all the unique features at Ask Jeeves. We try harder. 8)

#23 RahulLahiri

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 01:08 AM

Sorry for not getting back earlier. But I got here before Keith did anyway, so naturally I have the advantage this round.

Randfish, I am not entirely sure if you are referring to the standard nofollow robots tag, or the nofollow attribute proposed by Google to protect against blog spam. So I will address both. First the blog comment spam one. We are not in any rush to implement support for this one. Due to the fundamental difference of the Teoma technology from PageRank and PageRank-like technologies, we do not have the same vulnerability to this type of spam. I think this is what you may have heard me mention at the NY SES.

We do support the other one. If a webmaster does not want our crawler to visit certain areas of a website, we fully respect that.

Hope this answers your question.

#24 Jefe

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 01:47 AM

Jim, I see that you're returning to Tokyo this month to give the keynote address at CNET Japan's Innovation Conference.
Two questions for you:

1. How does marketing ask.jp compare with marketing other Ask domains such as ask.com, ask.co.uk, etc.?

2. Did you know that there is an excellent tofu restaurant right across the train tracks from the Ask.jp office in Tokyo?

Real happy to have stumbled across this thread; cheers to all involved.

#25 randfish

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 03:10 AM

Rahul - Thanks for answering and setting the record straight. It's greatly appreciated. Perhaps you could answer two more for me:

Do you see AskJeeves getting more competitive in the near future as far as index size and crawl frequency?

Will AskJeeves/Teoma ever offer link command information? What's your view on this?

Jim - on to your comments. Thanks for responding to all my little items, it's great to see such attention to detail (but then I suppose that's what a good butler is for :().

When I think about Jeeves, I always have this branded picture of a more personal and focused web servant - your wish is his command, but he's also more helpful than just giving you what you ask for. For example, let's say I search AJ for Flatscreen TVs. Jeeves might be inclined to say:

- Sir, I've got several websites on the subject of flatscreens that are particularly popular at the moment
- Sir, I've found some news items on the subject of flat screens which might be more impartial than the stores you're looking at
- Sir, good news, I've found several websites that conduct comparison reviews of flatscreens

I could see this going further, to a type of Alexa/Amazon thing:

- Sir, others who have seen this website often visited these other 2 sites
- Sir, this website is considered highly trustworthy by the Jeeves team
- Sir, you've visited this website several times, shall I add it to your favorites?

As far as e-mail goes, Jeeves might offer:

- Sir, if you'd like, I can e-mail you any new sites or pages that are on this topic
- Sir, you appear to have deleted most of the messages marked "now she'll love you 4ever", shall I assume these are spam in the future?
- Sir, your e-mail can now be sorted by contact, simply by clicking that contact's name
- Sir, your e-mail can now be sorted by subject, even if you don't know the exact text to look for; my text analysis algos are quite upper crust you see

Or on other subjects:

- Sir, your browser appears to be infected by spyware, shall I remove it?
- Sir, you've checked the weather the last 25 times we've visited one another, shall I add that information to the Jeeves homepage for you?
- Sir, Jeeves researchers are currently standing by to answer any question you cannot find via the web for a very slight fee
- Sir, if you'd care to show me your favorite websites, I may be able to recommend others you'll enjoy
- Sir, there are several blogs in your zipcode that seem to share your search interests, would you care to see them?
- Sir, if you'd like to tell me more about you, I may be able to better serve your results on this particular search or forever after in the future

These are just the types of ideas that float around in my head when I think about what the Internet's one and only manservant might provide. Can you tell I think dropping the butler is a bad idea?

Randfish: More? Beyond Teoma, we've been at the forefront with so many products, from Smart Answers to Binoculars to MyJeeves to Zoom and Web Answers this past week. We even announced Desktop search first. I'm dyin' here.

Jim, if I didn't like all the really cool stuff Jeeves has come out with, I wouldn't ask for more. This wasn't a dig, but rather the opposite - more of a "keep up the good work" sort of thing. BTW - I do love the binocs, you can filter spam without having to ever visit.

I hope you don't mind my whimsical suggestions of services :)

#26 bwelford

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 04:57 AM

Welcome to the Forums, Jefe. :wave:

Your post is an important reminder of the challenges of handling the multi-lingual nature of the world. That's true for humans and even more for search engines.

#27 JimLanzone

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 08:55 AM

1. How does marketing ask.jp compare with marketing other Ask domains such as ask.com, ask.co.uk, etc.? 

2. Did you know that there is an excellent tofu restaurant right across the train tracks from the Ask.jp office in Tokyo?


Jefe: Thanks for the recommendation. Every time I'm in Tokyo I get taken out for Italian food for some reason, so this will be a good change of pace.

Marketing is not fundamentally different anywhere, just executionally different. What's been different for us in Japan is the fact that we're coming into the market later in the game than we did in the US and UK. Early entrants have a big advantage, and late entrants need to be more aggressive. So, for example, Ask Jeeves Japan started doing TV ads straight out of beta last month. That reminds me that we need to post the ads on the Blog. People outside of Japan will love them. Spoiler alert: the tagline is "Bingo!"

(We are co-owners of Ask Jeeves Japan with Transcosmos, by the way. So it is a different company. I am a board member, not an exec, of AJJ.)

Do you see AskJeeves getting more competitive in the near future as far as index size and crawl frequency?


Randfish: No problem, keep the questions and ideas coming. We appreciate it.

In terms of index size, you need to remember that until recently we have only been serving the US and UK. Japan and Spain are the only two additional markets that we've entered so far. In our markets, we're very competitive in size. Overall, we choose, as a matter of strategy, to be pretty conservative when it comes to growth, simply because there is so much junk out there. We're missing some things as a result, but nothing fatal. You will see us grow, in each market we service, but pragmatically.

When I think about Jeeves, I always have this branded picture of a more personal and focused web servant - your wish is his command, but he's also more helpful than just giving you what you ask for. I could see this going further, to a type of Alexa/Amazon thing.


Randfish: Lots of great ideas there. Thank you.

One thing to keep in mind, per the discussion on usability above, is that users demand simplicity. One of the challenges of designing a search results page is how to surface all of these options without overwhelming the user. 99 times out of 100, when faced with the choice of lots of bells and whistles or few of them, people will take fewer, even if it means worse results initially. We need to give people the right products, at the right time, in the right place.

Another result of the need for simplicity has been a de-emphasis on the personification of the butler over the years. While some people like it, more people think that it gets in the way of their search. They prefer Jeeves as a representative of the service, not a literal interpretation of it. It also sometimes sets expectations higher than what technology can reasonably deliver (eg, people play stump the butler, but you rarely see them purposely trying to stump other search engines). Maybe we should have Advanced Jeeves Options so you can choose the level of Jeeves you want!

#28 dyn4mik3

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 11:51 AM

Jim, Rahul, Keith - thanks for dropping by to answer our questions. I have a couple things to ask regarding Bloglines search.

Recently, Mark Fletcher said that Bloglines will be launching a world-class blog search in the summer. What problems do you see Ask Jeeves/Bloglines solving that Technorati/Feedster/Pubsub has not been able to? Will this new search engine be based on the current Ask Jeeves search? Are there any plans to integrate Bloglines search into Ask Jeeves?

How are you distinguishing normal sites from blogs?

This last question isn't really search related, but are there any efforts twoards launching a blog portal of your own (Blogger/Yahoo 360/MSN Spaces/etc)?

#29 MUSCLE13

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 08:41 PM

Jim,

Will Ask.com be integrated with MyWay? Seems like a very obvious solution to bring world-class email and portal functionality to Ask.com

MUSCLE13



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