Showing posts tagged Ask.com
Yesterday I was at the Badgeville Engage 2012 Summit and spoke on the “Intersection of Social and Gamification” panel with Jodee Rich, CEO, Peoplebrowsr and Matthew Price, Product lead at Bazaarvoice. As you can imagine, there was a lot of discussion around how to engage users and which social platforms companies should focus on. The answer – it’s about finding the right combination of the right content, paired with the right social media channel for each demographic. This can seem like a daunting task, but if you approach it as an opportunity, fragmented social channels and users can be a benefit.
Far too often companies make the false assumption that only younger users are interested in social engagement online. The reality is that almost every user wants to be social, they just consume social content in different ways. A younger user might be looking for more concise content delivered in small bites through notifications, mobile alerts and Twitter. Conversely, an older user may be interested in the same content, but will be more engaged if that content is more in-depth. Appropriately targeted content has a higher likelihood of engaging your users, and most importantly, they’re more likely to share the content with their networks. The added bonus, you’ve now hit up two very different audiences, across two very different social channels with the same kind of content.
- Jason Rupp, Sr. Director of Product Management, Ask.com
PTO is meant to be a time to hit the restart button, shut off the work side of your brain and regroup. If done right, you come back ready to get back to work – bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. There’s just one problem – do you have enough PTO days accrued to take your dream vacation? Will your manager approve the PTO days you had planned for a trip to your hometown? Or will you be forced to negotiate some “unpaid” time for an unexpected emergency that demands you’re out of the office three days in a row?
Almost three years ago, Ask.com CEO, Doug Leeds, decided to nip these issues in the bud on behalf of our employees with an “Unlimited PTO Un-Policy”. As you can imagine, the idea of offering unlimited PTO raised a lot of questions. How would this be managed? Will we actually get any work done if we don’t put a limit on vacation time? Doug’s thinking was, we hire committed responsible adults to manage the growth of our company – people who know how to get their jobs done. This will work for us.
Three years later, our “unlimited vacation” approach has proven his theory true. Our ~ 230 employees have enjoyed the unique flexibility our approach provides, allowing them to truly unplug from work life (no accruals required) while justifying the company’s trust in them to balance workload with time out of the office.
Ask.com was an early jumper on the unlimited PTO bandwagon, but others have joined our ranks – Evernote and Zynga being two examples. And of course the pioneer, Netflix, with whom our CEO Doug consulted to get feedback straight from the horse’s mouth before Ask rolled out the offer to its own employees. We’re glad to see that more and more of our fellow tech companies here in the Bay Area are agreeing with Ask’s perspective and offering unlimited PTO to its employees.
Enjoy the rest of the summer – we know we are!
- Suraya Akbarzad, Ask.com
Both online and off, love is most definitely in the air. So far, my wife and I have been to no fewer than six weddings this spring and summer. Which got me thinking - Mrs. McKirdy and I have now been happily married nearly 12 years. What’s the secret? I decided to put that question to our Q&A Community. Love, trust and honesty came up several times, along with shared experiences of a few personal growth opportunities in the marriage department. Lots of great conversation in the comments, too! You can check out all the answers (and add your own) here.
And it seems love is not limited to just married adults in the Ask.com community. Younger folks are also feeling the effects of Cupid’s arrow, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the community as a whole. Recently, I received this note from a Q&A Community member:
I can’t help noticing all the teen crush questions, like “does he like me?” or “which girl should I go out with?” They’re everywhere! I thought these weren’t allowed at Ask.com, so why are they here? What can be done about this? I really come to Ask.com to ask and answer questions about politics and business/finance, and I’d really rather not have to deal with the kid stuff.
While we want to make sure to offer all of our users a place where they can get their questions answered, we also hear loud and clear that some folks would prefer not to see certain types of questions. And now, they don’t have to! We recently rolled out a new feature in the Q&A Community called Category Filtering. Just select the categories you don’t want to see, and questions in those categories will never be displayed to you in the All Recent questions. To enable category filtering, do the following:
1. Log in to your account at www.ask.com
2. Click “Settings” in the upper right corner, and then on the “Personal Set.” Tab
3. Place a checkmark in the box of each category you’d rather not see, and then be sure to click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the category list
That’s it! By the way, you can always go back and change your mind later if you decide you want to help figure out if stolen glances on the playground really mean true love, or if you come up with foolproof answers regarding how to choose between two different guys who want to take you to prom.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it looks like it’s time to go buy a couple more blenders.
Eric McKirdy is Ask.com’s Corporate Brand Ambassador and Customer Support guru. If you have a question you’d like to see answered here on the blog, send it to him at customersupport (at) ask.com; if your question is used, he’ll even send you an Ask.com t-shirt.
Exciting to see a shout out from The New York Times on our new cinema commercials!
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our Hackathons, it’s that each one yields different results—and this, our third one, is no exception.
Our first ‘thon gave us Pollroll, which is, well, rolling along nicely. Our second one gave us one concept that we’re bringing to Twitter, and another that’s already improved our improved our database-query times by 50X.
This time, organizers Nick McCann and Alisa Barnes raised the stakes yet again. For our Summer 2012 Hackathon, our eighty participants not only hacked products, they also explored ways to improve their presentation skills.
To help teams focus their ideas, this ‘thon had a theme: social media. After all, our users and partners continue to use social media tools. As a business, we’re continually looking for ways to incorporate social media in the work we do. Hence, the desire to come up with ideas that build on our existing offerings.
“I’m really excited to see what we get out of this (Hackathon),” Alisa told me. “I’m expecting it to impact our product roadmap significantly.”
The Art of the Pitch
Not everyone is comfortable with presenting in front of a group, so Eve Chaurand-Fraser, our VP of Business Development and General Counsel, offered our hacker teams “pitch workshops” to hone their skills. “We didn’t want great ideas to slip through the cracks based on the presentation alone — not everyone does this sort of thing for their job,” Eve explained. “I wanted to level the playing field.”
Hacking for the Prize
Thursday’s hacking went on behind closed doors and on the occasional cubicle island. Friday began with presentations from all ten teams. With lunch came the judging, and by 1:30 PM, we had our winner: Team OMGCLICK with an idea that involved a content indexing system and an in-house tool that would let Ask Editors assemble hilarious and/or fascinating content into easily shareable (dare we hope “viral?”) galleries and collections. The victors received iPods and Jamboxes — and trophies, of course. But everyone received experience — in pitching, in product creation and in thinking about social media. Believe us; you’ll see more of that from us in the future.
—Ken Grobe, Ask.com
The American Customer Satisfaction Index released its scores this week for Internet Portals & Search Engines and we have to say, we were pleasantly surprised! Based on YOUR responses, Ask.com was the only company that maintained an impressive score of 80 (out of 100) while all others’ scores either declined since last year or were rated lower overall. We’re very proud of our standings and thank our loyal users for your continued support! After all, we wouldn’t be Ask.com with you!
Today we announced that Ask.com acquired an early stage, up-and-coming content discovery platform: nRelate. You can read Mediapost’s take on the news here.
We’ve made no secret that 2012 was going to be a big year for Ask to lay the groundwork for future growth. Over the last year and a half, we’ve doubled down on Q&A, which has yielded significant growth in traffic and profits as well as on mobile platforms, with more than 2 million downloads of our apps.
That’s not to say our vision for Q&A is fully realized yet – it’s evolving based on feedback from our users. And they’re telling us they are happiest with an Ask.com Q&A experience that lets them ask questions, browse multiple answers and discover relevant information that fuels new questions. As such, we want to invest in more answers, in different formats, from more sources – users, experts, media organizations, and of course published, searchable data on the web.
Our increasing focus on answers (content) is not unique. Thanks to the ease of self-publishing, individual consumers, major media companies - even marketers - are producing content at a staggering rate, making content discovery companies like nRelate all the more relevant.
So why nRelate and what are Ask’s plans? First, nRelate founders Neil Mody and Oliver Wellington have built a pretty incredible company with solid technology and phenomenal organic growth across 35,000 publishers with a very small team. Second, they are two of the most personable, stand-up guys I’ve met in the business (their take on today’s announcement here).
Outside of that, here are the reasons why this investment makes a lot of sense for Ask:
—- We know a thing or two about content discovery. We’ve been in the business of connecting consumers with information for 16 years and have developed technology to help our users find what they’re looking for faster. We see a huge opportunity to apply these assets and experience to content discovery products for other websites and think the combination of nRelate’s product suite and our technology can be disruptive for publishers looking to juice consumer engagement and improve monetization.
—- We know a few things about distribution too. A top 10 U.S. Internet site, Ask attracts 65 million visitors a month. We already work with partners to access content feeds for answers across areas like health, sports, food, games and travel. Now, more publishers (and brands) will have the opportunity to scale content distribution in the form of relevant answers on a leading Q&A platform, which connects our users to great content as well.
There’s still a lot of work ahead as we dig into our collective technologies and roadmaps and ramp up hiring, but I’m very excited to be a part of this growing market, and apply what I know is formidable technology to creating new and unique value for publishers and content owners.
A big THANK YOU to the Ask and nRelate teams for all the hard work pulling this over the finish line!
What does the Ask team do on a rainy day? Play with floating sharks of course!
What better way to celebrate Pi Day than eating some good ol’ fashion pie! At exactly 3:14pm today, Ask.com employees were treated to delicious pies in honor of the mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter – approximately equal to 3.14. Hence, why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th. Do you know how many digits of Pi are actually known?
Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations