The Emeryville, Calif.-based company said it extended its "Smart Search" technology, introduced earlier this year for Web navigation, to the area of products, so that visitors can easily compare product features, prices and brands, as well as read reviews and find stores that sell desired items. Smart Search technology is designed to give Web surfers more information within results pages to help cut down the time it takes to find answers.
Ask Jeeves joins several Internet companies that are emphasizing product search at a time when consumer demand is growing. As many as 40 percent of surfers look for information on products or services via a general search engine, according to industry estimates.
Consequently, Yahoo recently updated its product search, adding feature comparisons and customization tools for shopping. It eventhis weekend to showcase product search, among other things. Google has also updated its specialty shopping service, Froogle, in recent months.
Amazon.com has joined the search fray by called A9.com to develop a product finder for internal use and for other companies.
Ask Jeeves' move comes a day after the companySteve Berkowitz from president to chief executive officer. Berkowitz, who became president in July, will replace George "Skip" Battle, who will serve as executive chairman of the board of directors and replace co-founder Garrett Gruener as chairman. Gruener will remain on the board.
Search technology and related marketing has helped revive the online advertising market, and companies like Ask Jeeves are enjoying a reversal of.
The company is riding high on the buzz around search. Its share price was up nearly 3 percent, to $20.42, in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on its product search announcement.
Ask Jeeves' product search is powered by a combination of in-house technology from Teoma, which it bought in 2002; Ask Jeeves natural language algorithms; and third-party tools from PriceGrabber, a niche product-comparison site.
Ask Jeeves said its service is superior to those of rivals because it will automatically identify shopping-related searches, e.g., if the query term is "cameras," and serve up germane results. If a consumer is in more-advanced stages of shopping, for example, typing in the query term "digital cameras" or "Canon Powershot," it will respond with more-targeted results, such as product comparisons or reviews.