AskJeeves Bows New Search Functions, Hints at Future Plans

AskJeeves released a new set of specialized search functions, most noteworthy among them a “binoculars” feature that gives searchers a peek at results without having to click away from the page. The company also discussed its plans for an integrated ad platform that will let advertisers deploy campaigns across its search, portal and network properties.

The binoculars site preview tool works by presenting people with a small binocular-shaped icon next to each link. By rolling over the icon, a searcher catches a quick visual glimpse of the landing page behind a corresponding link. The feature is designed to shorten search time, while reducing the number of clicks necessary to find relevant results. (Tests of the binocular feature were reported by ClickZ News earlier this month.)

In independent tests conducted through VeriTest, the company reported people using the function reduced their visits to results pages by 50 percent.

“People who had it for a while wound up totally changing their search behavior during the review phase and almost completely eliminated the pogo-sticking effect,” said SVP of Search Properties Jim Lanzone, referring to the practice of repeatedly clicking back to a results page in the quest for relevancy.

Other new features include several additions to AsJeeves’ SmartSearch capabilities, which originally launched in Spring 2003. These offer direct “best guess” answers that turn up directly below the query field and above normal search results. New SmartSearch functions include quick results for searches on movies, wedding registries, FedEx and UPS tracking numbers, famous people, word definitions and the nation’s terror alert status. For example, a search on “Roosevelt” supplies a biography of Theodore Roosevelt with links to pictures of the former president and an official Web page at the domain.

There are no advertising products among AskJeeves’ new search functions, but the company discussed its plans to build a more robust ad platform that will allow marketers to place campaigns across its numerous online media holdings in a more integrated manner. The search-focused company’s other properties include My Way, My Search, My Web Search, iWon, Excite and the MaxOnline ad network, all of which came under its umbrella through its acquisition of Interactive Search in March 2004.

“We will work through the course of the year to integrate offerings across all the different properties we own,” Lanzone said. “It makes sense to give advertisers a one-stop shop across all sites. If you combine the portals with the search site with the ad network, there’s a lot we can do for advertisers.”

With some of its new features, AskJeeves is attempting to catch up to rivals Google and Yahoo, which have developed and released capabilities similar to some of those rolled out today.

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