Jim Lanzone, the chief executive of Ask.com, the fourth-most-used Internet search engine in the US, believes it is time to move beyond the 10 blue links—the standard way to display Web search results.
Ask.com, which plans to spend $100 million this year to promote its service, will not only present answers to queries in a three-panel screen that includes links to search results, but also lists of related searches and results from blogs, as well as video, photo, news and shopping sites.
The service, which the company calls Ask3D, is being described as a radical change to the presentation of answers by a major search engine. It is aimed at making it easier for users to find what they are looking for and comes amid a race by search engines to integrate new forms of online content into search results in an attempt to attract more users.
“There are a lot more types of content online than there were a few years ago,” Lanzone said. “But the search experience still looks like it did in 1996.” In recent years, all major search engines, including those of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, have tried to bring new types of content into search results. Last month, for instance, Google unveiled a service it calls universal search that intersperses videos, photos, news and other content into traditional search results.
But while Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have introduced changes gradually and have largely stuck with the traditional presentations, Ask.com is taking a different, if riskier, approach.