Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp plans to fit financial services and real estate data into its AskCity service as part of a deliberate plan to use Ask.com as “glue” for the company’s wide range of content.
The AskCity service, launched earlier this month as a standalone destination for local search and mapping features with business listings, events, and movie listings, will be expanded in 2007 to offer data from LendingTree.com and CitySearch, two IAC-owned properties that specialize in financial services and real estate information.
Diller made the announcement on a conference call with investors where he also announced the launch of Ask X , a user-interface test prototype that provides Ask.com search results on an AJAX-powered three-pane page.
“If you’ve road-tested AskCity, you’ve seen how special it is. The way the information is lined up inside the site is quite powerful. That’s the way it’s going to be all the way through,” Diller said.
“Over the next one and half years, we’ll start putting new things in there. A financial services piece, a real estate piece. Our product roadmap is very deliberate about what we want to do with Ask.com as the glue,” he added.
He said Ask.com gives IAC a “dream convergence” to cross-market traffic and serve advertising to eyeballs that would be up for grabs by competitors Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
“We already have a good search engine. It’s utterly unique to us that we have this enormous amount of value-added information from all our subsidiaries. No one else has this,” Diller added.
He said the company had no plans to jump on the MySpace/YouTube bandwagon, arguing that IAC’s mission is to put interactivity into existing sites. “I don’t think those are things we’ll pursue. The pure social networking sites have issues in the future, despite the current success of those businesses,” he added.
“We’re far more interested in content sites that have an advertising business model and things like transaction and subscription sites,” Diller said.
He described the Ask X sandbox as “the real deal,” hinting that IAC will continue to tinker with search displays to determine the best way to push content — and advertising — to its users.
Ask X displays search results in a three-pane interface – the left pane features search control panel and Zoom Related Search and Search Suggestions that updates as the user enters a query.
In the middle, Ask X puts results front and center to provide clutter-free information without having to scroll down the page, and a “binoculars” feature to preview results.
On the right, the new UI offers a preview of other types of search results, including video, news, images, blogs, shopping and encyclopedia.