This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
A busy 24 hours at IAC (NSDQ: IACI) ... we wrote earlier about the pending soft launch of Tina Brown's The Daily Beast and now yet another update from search engine Ask.com, going live now with the "next generation"of its question-based service. Goals include reducing searches to one click and providing direct answers on the results page in high-volume categories. The changes follow a shift in strategy announced last spring to focus less on the whiz-bang kind of services that might impress "the digerati" and more on practical results appealing, for instance, to a key Ask constituency of mid-western and southern women over 30.
Ask says it has improved site download speeds by 30 percent compared to the same time last year. It ranked a distant fourth in the *comScore* U.S. search engine rankings with 4.8 percent in August 2008 but showed improvement in core search rankings and was up 7 percent in the number of searches, compared with drops for *Yahoo* and *Microsoft*. Among the changes:
-- Ask "now ranks and integrates content from a broader and more comprehensive set of content types such as breaking news, blogs, images, videos, and music right into the center panel."
-- Ask goes deeper into its highest-volume categoriesEntertainment, Health & Nutrition, Jobs, and Referencefor direct responses.
-- A new Q&A channel with direct answers to "everyday" questions. It draws on q&a content from across the web. There's also a new direct answers channelhttp://www.answers.ask.com/
-- Dropping nav icons for text to make loading the homepage faster.
By Staci D. Kramer