Ask has announced several major partnerships designed to fuel the company’s growing Q&A service. More specifically, the partnerships will drive expansion of Ask's "smart answers" across more categories including: sports, recipes, travel and music.
The point of the "smart answers" feature of Ask is to give users real answers, as opposed to links to web content - when applicable, and include an "exact answer" right at the top of the page. The product is still in limited beta.
New partners include: Sports Network, Lonely Planet, Calorie Counter, IGN Entertainment and Lyrics.com.
"Ask.com is unique from other Q&A sites in that we have a real mechanism for scouring the Web for answers to questions, in addition to helping people connect with each other for information," said Shane McGilloway, executive vice president of business operations at Ask.com. "With Ask.com Smart Answers, users do a search or ask a question and get a clear cut answer from a credible source in a fraction of a second – an approach that yields increased user satisfaction as well as frequency and retention. With the expansion of Smart Answers into these new, high volume categories, millions more people will experience this benefit."
"As one of the most established players in Q&A, Ask.com sees more questions than practically anyone, and with a growing number of them sports-related, this partnership makes perfect sense," said Ken Zajac, director of sales for The Sports Network. "Smart Answers help people save time and effort, and make it possible for us to engage with millions of Ask users every day."
Ask says that to ensure quality, it generates Smart Answers from a select pool of content partners "carefully vetted based on criteria like authority, relevance and subject matter depth." Ask then uses natural language processing to match exact answers to specific questions. The answer appear on Ask.com and in the Ask Mobile Q&A App.
WebProNews discussed Ask's efforts in mobile, location-based Q&A with the company at SXSW a few months ago:
Ask says food, sports and health are among the most popular categories on its service.
"The Q&A category is bigger than ever because no one has cracked this quite yet – and we are in an excellent position to do so given our approach and history with the consumer," CEO Doug Leeds told WebProNews recently. "Also, you’ll see us continue to invest in mobile over the next five years, as Q&A behavior increasingly translates to mobile devices. We have a pretty aggressive mobile product roadmap. I’d like to see us as the dominant provider of mobile Q&A services a few years from now.”