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August 14, 2007

Attaboy, Ask: Two Fun New Ask.com Finds

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Days like this warm my soul. Days when I can praise Ask.com for being creative and innovative, instead of having to lash out in response to another poorly thought out advertising attempt. Ah, rejoice in the serenity.

Yes, today, Gary Price and the Ask.com alerted me to two new, fun Ask finds that are definitely worth mentioning: A brand new Ask commercial that doesn’t suck (or insult women!) and a new Health Smart Answer that is 10 times less frightening than what Google Health is shaping up to be (no, I will NOT download my medical files to Google, but thank you for asking).

A Simpler, Smarter Commercial

Okay, so some of us have been programmed to wince as soon as we hear the phrase “new Ask.com commercial” but this time it’s really not necessary. The commercial doesn’t suck. And it isn’t insulting! In fact, it actually highlights their features. Oh my goodness, so many huzzahs!

Don’t believe me? Check it out:



It’s simple and sophisticated. There are no chorus lines, no strange dog/monkey hybrid, and no half-naked girls. Actually, there are no words at all. It’s a silent depiction of a searcher using the Ask engine and taking advantage of all of Ask’s unique features. It’s a commercial designed to distinguish Ask from its competitors by showing how much better its tools are. Seriously, a new calm has come over my body knowing that, even if it’s just for today, I can trust Ask.com again.

I really hope Ask decides to take a similar route with its next batch of commercials because, as Gary pointed out, Ask has many more features and services that could very easily be featured in the same manner. When it comes to search, Ask.com is still trailing behind Google in regards to the size of its index, but they really are doing better almost everywhere else.

New Health-Related Smart Answer

The timing of this release is particularly interesting considering today’s lengthy New York Times piece about Dr. Google and Dr. Microsoft and their plans to "improve the nation’s health care" (What? You didn’t know it was a search engine’s job to fix the entire health care system? They balance the national debt next week!).

Ask’s offering is completely different than what Google and Microsoft is suggesting, because while Google and Microsoft want to house all of your medical records and then put ads on them, Ask just wants to help searchers find the answers to their medical questions.

The new Ask Smart Answer works just like all of their other Smart Answers. Perform a search for virtually anything health related, such as [lung cancer], [bird flu], [prozac], [Vitamin E] or just name a part of the body ([eye]) and Ask will populate a Smart Answer will a collection of great information, links and images. And of course, the 3D component of their search, which we highlighted a bit yesterday, acts as a great complement by providing additional images, videos, dictionary information, news, news images, and even related blog posts (!) when appropriate.

Gary noted in his post at ResourceShelf that a search for [first aid] will also populate a drop down menu listing all of Ask’s First Aid Smart Answers. Good to know, but if your father is having a heart attack, please call an ambulance. Don’t bring up Ask.com.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the health vertical develop. Google and Microsoft are really pushing to bring personal health records online so that they can house them on their servers. I’m not okay with that. Even if they’re showing me the tightest privacy policy ever created, I don’t want or trust Google holding on to my health records. I’m far more comfortable with the "health services" being provided by Ask.

For me, going to Ask and trying to use their Health Smart Answers to diagnosis this weird lump on my arm is very different than giving Google or Microsoft the keys to my medical history.

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One response to “Attaboy, Ask: Two Fun New Ask.com Finds”

  1. Arthur Freydin writes:

    Totally agreed.
    While I’m in no way conservative in handing out personal details online, there is no way in hell that Google or (!)Microsoft(!) is going to house my family’s contact info, allergies, or doctors I have been to. That’s just unsavory.

    About Ask, I think I might have used them a total of maybe 3 times – and even then, twice was for testing. I have to say, the new Health Smart Answers peaked my interest so I went over and took a quick glance. I’ll give them one thing, they know how to utilize screen real estate better than a Viagra site (not that I frequent them)! All the content in their 3D view is usually relevant to the search and everything is integrated quite nicely.
    Kudos Ask!



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