One of the single biggest reasons you see so much attention being given to Q&A sites is that regular web search is just not that great at answering questions. Between the over-abundance of content farms and the limitations of algorithms, the time it takes to extract a simple answer from ten blue links is becoming increasingly tiresome.
At Ask, our goal is to find the answer on the web if it exists, or route the question to real people if the answer can’t be found on the web. But to us, “finding the answer on the Web” does not mean serving up links. It means crawling web content in a specialized way to find the exact answer to a question or set of search keywords, and put it at the top of our search reply page. It also means working closely with our content partners - leading content/media companies, technology providers, and brands – to develop answers created from trusted, premium content. So if you have a health related question, you might see an answer from our partner Healthline. Need to now about a particular model or make of car? Then you might see one from DriverSide.
Does this approach make a difference to the consumer? Our internal research says it does. For example, users who see our partner-driven, editorially vetted Smart Answers (examples below) have significantly higher satisfaction rates than those who see pure algorithmic search results. Bottom line: When they have questions, people like to see straightforward answers from trusted content sources, with the option to link off to the partner site for more information.
The launch of the human-powered Q&A feature on Ask.com has created a recent, interesting shift in question categories as our users start asking more subjective questions of each other. This means we’re on the hunt for new partnerships in content areas where we see the most volume. In particular, we are actively pursuing new partnerships in the areas of food/recipes, sports, parenting, home improvement, consumer electronics and fitness.
David Amato, Director, Business Development