Ask 3D was the name Ask gave to the “three pane” user interface rolled out earlier this year. Now Google seems to be copying Ask, at least to the second degree, with the right-most column being used to show vertical results similar to how Ask does it. Google Blogoscoped and Valleywag both have pictures of Google trying out the right-hand column as a location for Google’s OneBox results.
It would be interesting to see if this test turns out to be more than a test. Google has adopted Universal Search, but by placing these vertical results outside of the main web results, they no longer seem to fit the blended Search 3.0 Universal Search-style but instead are more like Google’s traditional OneBox results.
That brings me to a discussion Danny and I had on the Daily SearchCast yesterday. There’s some confusion that anything placed in the middle of results is the result of Universal Search.
To our knowledge, Universal Search specifically means that Google drops a web search result (or two or three) from the usual 10 listings and replaces what was dropped with a vertical result (specifically, from news, local, books, images, or video search). Other types of search units or options inserted into the middle of results are not the consequence of Universal Search, but rather Google doing a different type of blending.
Danny is conducting a follow-up with Google this week to get further clarification about the changes we have been noticing recently with those results.