Tuesday, January 25, 2005

AOL pre-populating with straight answers

AOL is coming up with a very interesting strategy for "search". They are trying to do what we did for some enterprise customers:

From John Battelle:

AOL is taking "programmed search" to the extreme. It is, after all, a major division of a gigantic content player, and up until now, that content was locked away behind the failing access business model. No longer. AOL Search is taking the media model of search to the maximum - they have 60 full time employees creating edited "snapshots" which respond to what AOL Search chief Gerry Campbell says are 20% of all queries. That's 2.5 million snapshots preloaded, so when you type in a popular query, you get an "answer, not just a list of results." I imagine that number will only continue to grow. Yahoo circa 1995, anyone? This time, however, AOL only has to pre-load queries which prove out to be worth the time - the log files will tell them which ones. As will the economy. "We won't have a smart box for a query like 'birds of the Maldives'" Campbell told me. " But that's why we have Google."