Let’s Talk about Goog-Vark

I quickly wrote up the announced acquisition of social search engine/answer engine Aardvark by Google over at Internet2Go. Fifty million will buy a lot of cheese-puffs I don’t mind telling you.

Much more intriguing is how Google will put the service to work (my speculation):

  • Human/Aardvark answers in SERPs
  • Didn’t find what you were looking for? “Ask a human” in SERPs (less likely)
  • Geotagged/geo-coded Aardvark answers/recommendations in Maps, Buzz, Latitude and/or on Place Pages
  • Others?

Here’s the most wacky scenario: Aardvark or the technology inside (like Live Person) might be eventually used to offer a quasi-professional, distributed call-center-like resource like for customer support.

The acquisition is both offensive but also potentially defensive in a couple of ways. Aardvark itself was likely never going to topple or steal real volume from Google. But the concept of a P2P service that offers an alternative to Google is threatening (think Facebook). Aardvark gives Google that capability now.

How do you think Aardvark will be used?

5 Responses to “Let’s Talk about Goog-Vark”

  1. Sebastien Provencher Says:

    An integration idea from John Battelle’s blog, ” I do know Max well enough to say that his goal would be to see Aardvark integrated into the main search interface, such that when you ask Google a question, it would give you the option of “asking a human” through the ‘vark service.”

    When we talk to directory publishers, this is exactly the way we propose to integrate our Local Answers module (i.e. Not satisifed with these results? Ask your friends and the Yellow Pages community). It becomes the back-up social search for long-tailish queries that search engines can’t answer today.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    But will people use it in the context of a yellow pages product. Perhaps in Canada on YPG (or Europe), given the position of the company in the market. However, in the US that may be more challenging.

  3. Sebastien Provencher Says:

    I’m not talking about general queries. I’m thinking about “local” queries. What’s interesting is that Google already includes Aardvark in Google Labs and says the most popular queries are:
    # Travel tips
    # Restaurant & bar recommendations
    # Product reviews/opinions
    # Local services and entertainment suggestions

    Sounds like YP searches to me!

  4. Perry Says:

    The problem I’ve found in Vark (btw, I prefer Buzz-aard to goog vark) is that people ask the most broad and simple questions imaginable. I used the service extensively as a “responder” and rarely see a question that either A) really needed more dialog to give any kind of decent answer, or B) couldn’t be better served by jumping on to Yelp, etc…

    for what it’s worth. I love the promise of Vark, but found the reality to be lame and useless.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree that the reality falls short a fair amount of the time. We’ll see how Google uses it

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