Aardvark today expanded its answer service beyond its iPhone and instant messenger application offerings with the launch of Vark.com, a social search web site. Unlike Yelp and Yahoo Answers, Aardvark’s service lets you tap into your social graph to get answers to your questions. The launch of Vark.com also provides monetization opportunities for San Francisco-based Aardvark, which CEO Max Ventilla said has up until now been more focused on improving the quality of its product. One option is to offer links to products other users refer to in their answers. For example, if a user asks about the best pair of running shoes to purchase, Vark.com could provide a link to a site that sells the ones recommended to him. Another possible monetization strategy is lead generation, which would see Vark.com offer sponsored answers to users’ questions. So if a user has a question about the best airline to fly to Europe, a travel agent could pay to post an answer. Ventilla said the company plans to start monetizing the site in 2010.
I’m a fan of Aardvark’s iPhone app, but after taking a sneak peak at Vark.com, I found the site offers a cleaner way to engage with the answer service. One of its best features is the “History” tab, which lists previous questions you asked and the answers you received from your social graph, as well as answers you sent to others. It’s a helpful catalog of your activity through which you can easily scroll, and it’s not available on Aardvark’s IM offering.