Ask Ads Shift Direction (for the Better)

Ask has been much-maligned for the choices it has made with some of its recent TV ad campaigns featuring D-lister Kato Kaelin or scantily-clad "chicks with swords" that likely offended at least half the intended audience. It also was criticized for the obscurity of the billboard campaign before it proclaiming that "The algorithm killed Jeeves," or "The algorithm is from Jersey." That campaign stirred up conversation in the industry, but not all of it was positive.

It seems that Ask.com has shifted course a bit with its latest ad, which Ask's Director of Online Information Resources Gary Price discusses at his ResourceShelf blog.

"In the past few days, Ask.com has started to air a new 30 second television commercial in the U.S. In my view, it's just what the doctor ordered. I think the new spot is simple, innovative, fresh and like the common like many other things involving Ask, illustrates that core search and IR is still core to what Ask is doing these days," writes Price.

The commercial, available for viewing online, is simple, with no words spoken, just the sounds of a user typing and clicking a mouse. It begins by asking the question, "Can your search engine do this?" It then shows the screen of a searcher using Ask.com, highlighting the various elements of the Ask3D updates made in June. The screen then reads "Or does it just do this?" and then shows a standard Google search results page with "ten blue links."

The ad does a good job of highlighting the features of Ask.com, and is sure not to offend anyone...two things that could not be said about some of its previous commercials. I still like the TV commercials that cryptically discuss "the algortithm," but a good mix of ads showing off the actual search engine can work in tandem with those ads to make a much better campaign than those of the "chicks with swords" variety.

About the author

Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.

Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.

With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.