Online video continues to blow up, and a lot of startups are capitalizing on it. Ask says that as a Q&A site, it sees a larger percentage of “how to” questions around art, science, cooking and exercise that are "begging to be answered visually." With that in mind, the company is taking what it says is a first step to making video a more integral part of its Q&A community.
It is doing this by integrating Google's YouTube API into the Ask.com user community. When a user includes a YouTube link in their answer to a question, the response will include a full thumbnail and metadata info, including playback for the video within the page (similar to Facebook’s display). Video will be infused across Ask's Answer products and web results. Ask’s "Smart Answers" will now more heavily embed video, and overall results will enable full play back of video on the results page.
David Amato, Director, Business Development at Ask tells WebProNews, "The API allows us to do a few things differently; most importantly, it will be easier for us to feature and scale video content across our site, both within user-generated answers and algorithmic responses. Currently we see around 1 million clicks a month go to YouTube to watch video; this will allow users the full video experience in the context of an answer to a question, right on the Ask.com site. And yes, this integration is a first step in laying the groundwork for richer video features down the road, such as the potential for users to record and upload their own video answers."
Ask says the news is simply a first step of a "multi-pronged approach to integrate videos in various ways (that recording and uploading of video answers straight from mobile and desktop devices will come later this year).
"Video is hugely important for our users, and it’s becoming more critical for our partners as well," Amato tells us. "Partners in our Branded Q&A pilot program will be able to distribute any of their own video assets in response to relevant questions from our growing community. Our Smart Answer units will showcase video directly within the answer itself, enabling partners who supply content to these units to present users with more helpful detail."
When asked about mobile, he says, "These features are less relevant on mobile devices, most of which have the YouTube video player already embedded. That said, we will be adding video thumbnails to relevant answers in our iPhone app soon. We’ve also optimized video results in our recently launched smartphone-friendly site to include images that, once tapped, trigger the player to launch."
Last month, we had a conversation with Ask CEO Doug Leeds. We asked him where Ask will be in another 5 years, and he didn't mention video, but he did say, "“There is a huge opportunity before us. 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. 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.”
Ask.com had over 60.5 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S. alone in May (Compete), and that's up from the previous month. To put that into perspective, Twitter.com had only about 29 million. AOL.com only had about 49.
The YouTube API functionality will launch later this summer.