Showing posts tagged iphone
Here’s a question we thought we’d float around Ask.com: Which smart phone platform do you prefer?
While Ask supports both platforms with equal passion, when it came to personal pref, our responses were unanimous. We enclose herewith our three favorites.
Katie McCarty, HR Manager
“I had a Droid for a month (I lost my iPhone and had another month until my next upgrade) and the user interface just didn’t click for me. I don’t read instructions or user forums, so when it comes to technology, it has to be intuitive.”
Eve Chaurand, Vice President, General Counsel
“iPhone, because all the apps I wanted were on iPhone. And Doug wanted us to test Siri (who turned out to be useless).”
Robbie Waeschenfelder, Marketing Director
“Android exists purely to make the iPhone look even better by comparison. Like an ugly sibling.”
TechCrunch posted an interesting article yesterday explaining a survey conducted by InMobi of 20,000 consumers. The findings show that people spent more time on the mobile web then watching TV. Essentially, people are “watching” their phones more than they are watching their television. People use their mobile devices all throughout the day, including 67% of the time lying in bed and 47% of the time waiting for something. Do these findings relate to how you use your mobile device?
Sheree Polonsky, Public Relations
Sometimes it seems like the only thing anyone talks about anymore is mobile. And that’s for good reason – the marketing intelligence firm eMarketer recently published a remarkable statistic – people are now spending more time consuming information on their phones than from printed media like newspapers and magazines. Mobile and print were neck in neck in 2010, but mobile jumped dramatically in 2011. This isn’t a surprise at Ask.com, where we’ve seen over 1 million downloads of our iPhone app since it launched in late 2010. Our recently-released Android app is on a similar trajectory, growing users at a rate of about 45% each month.
Despite the buzz about mobile, eMarketer’s report suggests that TV is still going strong. Adults in the US are actually watching 10 minutes more TV per day this year than they were in 2010. This is also great news for us, since we’re stepping up our TV advertising in several cities in 2012. If you live in San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia or Washington, DC you may notice commercials for Ask.com during one of your favorite shows starting in January. Let us know if you see them!
Click here to read more about the eMarketer study.
Ann Semeraro, Director, Consumer and Market Insight
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting at the O’Reilly Web2Expo in NYC (thanks @brady!). My talk was entitled “How to Create a Location Aware Group Chat App in 6 weeks” and was based the experience of building Ask Around for SXSW 2011. I have to admit, the title was a bit misleading. While I certainly shared details about how we discovered the concept, organized the team, planned, built and launched – the real story was in the unexpected positive side effect this project had on the team and the company. It wasn’t my original intent to share that subplot. But, as the presentation took form and I relived the experience, I realized that this project impacted us as individuals and as a team in many more ways than I had imagined.Let me bring you up to speed first.
The Ask Around project as an unusual one for Ask.com for a few reasons. First, it was an experiment like none we’d conducted before. We had set SXSW as our debut event which meant we had 6 weeks to build & launch! Second, we were building an iPhone app which was something we were relatively new to, and third it was our first use of location on mobile. Here are the key ingredients to how we did it, some of which are extras I didn’t share at the conference. If you’re not into Cliff’s Notes - the full 20 min presentation can be viewed below.
- Know how much you’re willing to risk. We used a Freelance Developer found through tapping trusted networks as the dev lead and added members of our Mobile Scrum team as our confidence grew. This allowed us to rapidly prototype early with little (1 week slip) disruption to existing strategic roadmaps. We chose mobile to reduce risk to our entrenched user base and monetization model.
- Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Agencies told us it wasn’t possible. Their priorities and constraints are different from yours – be persistent and find a way.
- Scrum – The team was used to daily meetings, releasing often, removing obstacles and pivoting quickly. This was key to being able to build a full feature chat service in 3 weeks.
- Inspire yourself – Setting an extremely challenging goal and fighting to hit it was motivating. The team shared a defining experience that bonds them to this day. Make it inspiring!
- Constrain yourself – The time and budget constraint forced us to focus on what was really important, be creative, make decisions quickly and be scrappy. Try it – see what happens.
The REAL lesson wasn’t learned until we got to Austin. We took 11 people, including the Scrum team, to SXSW with us. Best decision we could have made. Without them the after effect wouldn’t have happened. The team spent 4 days on the ground, using the product, face to face with users in their natural (well, as natural as sxsw can be..) habitat. It was like fast forwarding through months of usability tests! We saw how users search for apps in the Itunes store, what they think about before they sign up with Facebook (photo & name are ok as long as you don’t post to my wall!), how few techies were running the latest iOS, and most of all – how EASY it is to talk to users and gain valuable insights just by sharing a beer (and maybe some cell phone power…).
The best part was that every one of us there was touched in the same way by the time spent with people using the product with us. Everyone had a different story when we got back, a different nugget they’d learned or gotcha they’d uncovered.
That’s the story I wanted to share at Web2Expo. Sure, the tips/tricks about how to build something new quickly are valuable. But what I was really hoping for was to inspire just one person in the audience, to dare to take on a challenging experiment, and then launch it, as a TEAM, discussing feedback from the users – listen, and learn, and observe what happens to the team. Because for us, the real win wasn’t in the # of people using Ask Around, but in the ah-ha moment, the mental shift that getting developers closer to the end user is the secret to success. We’ve come a long way at Ask.com since March. We now have a 300+ Ask.com User Panel that we tap for feedback on upcoming launches and issues we struggle with. We also use tools like UserTesting.com and watch the videos as a team and in company wide meetings. And as I shared this story with the folks at Web2Expo I was reminded of the importance and that we can do even more to open our minds to creative possibility, take more risks in experimentation and find news ways to connect with our users for the sake of building innovative products for them.
I’m tempted to share early breakthroughs from an Improv Skills Program we’ve started here at Ask…but I think I’ll leave that for a future blog post…Until then – throw in some constraints, conduct an experiment, introduce a developer to a user and see what happens! I’d love to hear what you discover!
Lisa Kavanaugh, Chief Product & Technology Officer
Let’s face it. Some questions aren’t meant to be answered by a machine. That’s why you’ll see some changes to Ask.com today that involve you, our valued community of experts on all sorts of topics. Ask opened up its community portion of the site, previously in limited beta, to everyone – yup, all 63 million of you – so you can get answers from real people to subjective questions.
In addition, you’ll also probably notice a new look and feel that reflects what we’ve learned about how search and social intersect to offer the best Q&A experience. The new design helps users find the best answer to their question – whether that answer comes from a traditional Web search or from the community.
- Flexibility and Choice – With a new tabbed interface on the homepage, users can choose which experience makes sense for their question: searching the Web for a published answer immediately, or tapping a community of users for personal answers and recommendations.
- Ask People – The ability to join Ask People and exchange questions and answers with others is now available to all Ask.com users. Answers with positive user feedback are indexed and will surface in response to relevant searches conducted in the Search the Web tab. Ask People also includes the ability to browse Q&A content by social connections or topic areas.
- Web Search tailored for Q&A – Ask.com’s Q&A focused algorithms go beyond page rank and link counts to actually match queries with real answers. A search on Ask.com benefits from a number of these technologies working in the background, including Ask-curated Smart Answers and a database of more than 700 million Q&A pairs, to produce a real answer at the top of the page instead of ten blue links.
- User Q&A Content Front and Center – A new, streamlined design showcases more user-generated Q&A throughout the homepage and overall site via “People Are Asking” and “Related Q&A” sections.
- Improved Sharing & Social Features – Users can now share questions and answers of interest across multiple social platforms.
The Wall Street Journal wrote on the news this morning, check it out here. Also, check out screenshots below.
We recently surveyed users of both our web-based beta Q&A community and our iPhone app and wanted to share some key findings and differences between how the two groups (web + mobile) engage with our Q&A service.
We launched the beta of our user-powered Q&A community last summer, and while it is only accessible to about a third of our user base (scaling more widely soon!), we had a tremendous response to our survey. Among the key learnings about web users:
- Respondents claimed the primary motivators for using the Ask.com Q&A community online were getting answers and information (88 percent) and learning something new (57 percent).
- The bulk of respondents were older adults (65 percent were age 45+), yet respondents age 34 and under led all UGC activities including answering, commenting and voting.
- Half of survey respondents said they engage with the Ask community at least once a week.
As for our app users, here’s what we learned:
- The most common use of the Ask for iPhone app is browsing Q&A content, followed by web search, then asking real people questions. In fact, mobile community users were more likely than web community users to say they’re motivated to use the app because they have fun seeing what other people are asking and answering.
- Teens were the leading age group for browsing and answering questions.
- Sixty-five percent of respondents said they engaged with the mobile app at least once a week. This claimed usage dovetails nicely with internal (non-survey) data showing 43 percent of visits to the iPhone app are from users who return more than 8x per month. Collectively, this indicates a higher level of mobile engagement than what we see with site users.
One of the biggest take-aways about the two groups is the disconnect between them — and the big opportunity that holds for Ask. More than half of the respondents for the site survey had no idea that our Ask for iPhone app existed. As for iPhone users…well, nearly 40 percent of them exclusively use the app and never make it to the website. So there is a big opportunity here for us to connect the dots, which we’re excited about, especially as we look to expand on more mobile platforms in the coming weeks.
Check out more survey analysis in the DigiDay article that hit today featuring my colleague Jason Rupp and me. A big thank you to all who participated in our survey – your feedback is critical!
Ann Semeraro, Director, Consumer Insights
As promised a few weeks ago, Ask.com just rolled out a new experience for visitors coming to our website from an iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device. While we’ve been excited to see how users have embraced our iPhone app (nearly 700,000 downloads and counting!) we’ve also seen tremendous growth in the number of users who access Ask.com on their mobile devices - triple digit growth in the past few months.
Interestingly, this major growth has given us a front row seat to the Android vs. iPhone battle. iOS devices currently make up 55 percent of Ask.com smartphone mobile traffic - but it’s not going to be long before Android takes the top spot. Android traffic has skyrocketed more than 60 percent so far this year, while iOS traffic has grown a much smaller 30 percent.
Regardless of platform, we’ve seen consistently that smartphone users on Ask.com come to us not only for keyword searches but also – you guessed it – to ask a question. As of today, we’re making it as simple as possible for users visiting our site via their mobile browsers to ask questions while on the go. For example, users can now see, and edit entire questions. In addition to tailoring the interface to more long-form questions, we’ve also rolled out a host of features to make refining web searches easier, such as spell suggest, search suggestions, related search and enhanced answers at the top of the results page. Try it on your iPhone, iPod touch or Android and let us know what you think in the comments!
Jason Rupp Sr. Director, Product Management
We’re excited to share that the Ask.com “Skip the Line” trivia game has officially arrived to kick off the summer season for the guests of Six Flags Parks! Check out today’s ClickZ coverage of the news.
The Ask for iPhone app was updated late last week to detect users within the vicinity of Six Flags parks in 10 major cities across the country. Based on that location, the app will now launch the Six Flags “Skip the Line” game where users earn points for answering trivia questions correctly. For every correct answer, guests increase their chances of winning a ticket to the front of the ride line.
Location-based rewards and offers are clearly huge right now, and we see questions and answers as a natural tie-in to this model. Prior to launching the iPhone app last fall, we actually tested an SMS-based trivia game and “skip the line” incentive with Six Flags across three major markets and saw some encouraging results: 9 percent of guests engaged in the game, generating 90,000 texts, with 65% of those folks engaging multiple times. Naturally, the question with the most engagement was “How old is Justin Bieber?” Are you surprised? It was the year of Bieber fever, after all!
Time will tell which question will entice park goers most this year, but one thing we know for sure is that a growing number of park guests own smart phones, which means this year’s promotion should produce similarly successful results. With a location-aware trigger and new features like a player scoreboard and posting scores on Facebook, the in-app “Skip the Line” Q&A trivia game is well-positioned to create a fun mobile experience for guests as they wait for their favorite attractions.
For Ask, this campaign is exciting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is discovering how users receive and engage with location-based games and offers within our app. This will help us determine not only new features, but potentially new ways we can engage brands in using our platform to power their own offers down the road.
So download the app nowif you haven’t already, and get to a Six Flags park this month to play & win & scream!
Robbie Waeschenfelder, Director, Brand Marketing
It is so exciting to watch the Ask.com Q&A community grow and observe users’ interactions and behavior. In particular, we see that users who interact with answers from real people (a feature currently in beta) are more active than those who don’t engage with our Q&A community - in fact, users who engage with human-powered answers visit the site twice as much as those who don’t. It starts to get even more interesting when we drill down into the different types of Q&A activities occurring across user segments. We see mobile driving a significant portion of our Q&A service registration.
The mobile users of Ask.com Q&A go beyond consuming information – overall they are actually producing more content (questions, answers, comments) than typical site users. In fact, mobile users of our service overall produce 3x as many answers as our site users. Further, they generate more than 4x the volume of answers per question than site users (who, by the way, already contribute a healthy 2:1 ratio of answers per question). Similarly, our mobile users provide twice as many comments as our Q&A site users.
On the flip side, site users engage in asking questions more than answering and commenting. In fact, they ask twice as many questions as our mobile users. Although site users appear to prefer asking questions over other activities (answering/commenting), they still contribute to answering and commenting activities significantly.
It seems site users like to ask, and mobile ones like to answer and comment. It will be interesting to watch this evolve as we continue to grow Ask’s presence across more mobile platforms.
Neda Farzinnia, Director of Analytics
The latest version of our popular flagship mobile app, Ask for iPhone, is now live! Download it from iTunes here.
Since its initial launch last November, we’ve had a tremendous response and more than 500,000 people have downloaded the app. Now it just got better.
We made big strides in making this version more personal and social by allowing users to “follow” each other and browse by personal connections. Now, users can pinpoint people with specific expertise or knowledge, follow them and sort by their content – all from a mobile device. This is one step in our overall strategy to give users more control over their Q&A experience on the mobile device, so they can tailor results to reflect only the most trustworthy content.
In addition, general app updates include:
— A retooled results page, including answers from both search results and real people more tightly integrated into a single experience
— The ability to modify a question after its asked to better focus responses
— Spelling suggestions for questions
— Increased answer speed
— Log-in with Facebook or LinkedIn
This news coincides with another big Ask.com initiative for smart phone users: mobile-friendly changes (coming soon) to the Ask.com site. We’ve noticed that, in addition to embracing the iPhone app, users are increasingly seeking Ask.com via the mobile web; recently we’ve seen a major uptick in traffic from mobile devices to our web page. In fact, over the last two quarters there’s been close to 100 percent growth in visits to Ask.com from mobile devices, and a 50% spike in iPhone alone. As such, we’ve slated in a bunch of new updates for those browsing Ask on a mobile device, including increased performance, cleaner design, and a user log-in better optimized for the mobile experience.
As always, we want to hear from you. Test-drive the latest features and let us know what you think, right here on the blog.
Jason Rupp, Senior Director, Product Management