Promoting Search Engines


This page lists articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web about how search engines have advertised or promoted themselves to the public.

NOTE: Article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline. Also, some very old articles flagged “no longer online” might indeed be online — but the former URL no longer resolves, and it’s not worth the time investment for me to try and personally track down these down versus spending time producing new content.

Yahoo Advertising on Google
MarketingVox, June 7, 2004

Yahoo’s running ads on Google to drive traffic to its shopping area. It’s not the first time a search engine has advertised on another one. Indeed, Yahoo’s currently running a major campaign in Europe on Google and Espotting to promote some of its portal features. kicks off a TV ad campaign, Nov. 17, 2003 has launched a TV campaign to promote its shopping search engine.

Google, Amazon in a war of search words, Sept. 26, 2003

Google keyed an employment ad to appear on its web site anytime someone searched for the name of the president of Amazon’s new ecommerce search unit.

New Ask Jeeves Campaign Sidelines Butler, Aug. 11, 2003

Ask Jeeves has begin its new print campaign to reawaken users to its site as a search resource — and the famous butler is sitting this campaign out.

Searching Google Where’s Jeeves?
Forbes, July 24, 2003

Ask Jeeves is dropping its butler mascot in an effort to get consumers to understand the site has changed.

Ad Efforts Blossom in Search Engine Arena
AdWeek, June 6, 2003

It’s a new era of search engine advertising — that is, advertising by the search engines themselves. Ask Jeeves, Overture and HotBot are all making moves to get the word out about themselves. Note the statement that Google “hardly advertises at all.” True, in terms of search consumers. But Google does indeed spend on advertising and marketing itself to potential advertisers, just as Overture does.

Yahoo Kicks Off Wide-Ranging Search Campaign, May 19, 2003

Northern Light, now defunct, was the last search engine to run search-specific television ads back in 2000. Now search returns to TV as part of a new advertising campaign to be run by Yahoo. Ads are coming to billboards and the internet, also.

Ask Jeeves Plans New Marketing Push
April 21, 2003

Following on its redesign, Ask Jeeves is now pondering an advertising campaign to attract users. Such campaigns have never seemed to have built long-term usage in the past, but what the heck, the money is apparently flowing. At least the idea of expensive television advertising appears to have been ruled out while online is being strongly considered. That’s probably a good move. The one search engine I always felt did a good job in building users was Overture, back when it was originally the destination site. Shortly after its launch, GoTo banners were everywhere — and traffic did rise.

Ask Jeeves Launches Outdoor Ad Campaign, Nov. 15, 2002

Miss the “good old days,” when some search engines spent absurd amounts of money advertising themselves? Well, you might think they’ve returned, now that Ask Jeeves has decided to run ads to promote its site. But wait — we have a plan, says Ask Jeeves. It’s not expensive TV ads but instead billboards, signage and other types of promotion targeted specifically in LA and New York. Overview of where and how advertising is being done.

Lycos Asia Spends US$2.2m On Campaign For Enhanced Search Engine, May 18, 2001,,6_768611,00.html

Lycos is spreading the word in Asia that its sites there now all feature locally-compiled directories, Asia-wide directory information and crawler-based results from FAST.

The Actor Did It, Ask Jeeves
New York Daily News, Aug. 22, 2000

Earlier this year, when talking to people at conference near an exhibitor booth, one of the people over my shoulder seemed eerily familiar. Who was this guy? Why did I know him so well? Finally, it hit me — I was in front of the Ask Jeeves booth, and the guy was Jeeves himself! This article provides a closer look at one of the 50 different people to portray Jeeves at technology events.

Spock drafted in to flog Dotcom

The Register, July 14, 2000

RealNames competitor Netword picks up Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy to pitch its service.

Portals Overspend on Advertising

NUA, May 26, 2000

Another older article but with interesting statistics showing how much portals spend on advertising in relation to the advertising revenue they receive. At the top of the list, MSN was estimated to spend US $1.62 for every $1 earned. In contrast, Yahoo and some other portals spent only 10 cents per dollar earned. E-commerce and other revenues were not taken into account, only pure advertising revenue.

Northern Light is not search lite

Ad Age, April 17, 2000

Northern Light has launched its second television ad campaign, in hopes of raising awareness of the service. The first campaign last fall failed to bring the service anywhere close to the traffic levels of its competitors, as this article details.

Greybeard AltaVista aims to burnish image

Ad Age, March 2000

How AltaVista is trying to build its traffic with its first ever marketing campaign.

Licensing deal validates Ask Jeeves’s approach, Oct. 29, 1999

I’ve always thought the little Ask Jeeves guy was pretty hokey, but now he’s being backed by one of Hollywood’s biggest agents. Look out, Pokemon!

Internet icons on parade?

Salon, Sept. 24, 1999

Ask Jeeves will be in the next Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and Salon pictures it as the start of a net-related character rush in future years.

AltaVista, Northern Light to launch multimillion-dollar TV ad campaigns

Wall St. Journal, Aug. 2, 1999

Both AltaVista and Northern Light are planning television campaigns. All the search engines that have done this in the past have enjoyed real gains, so it’s a wise move for both companies. In fact, AltaVista already enjoys such heavy grassroots traffic that an TV campaign could push it into seriously rivaling Excite, Go or Lycos for traffic. As for Northern Light, this will probably be what finally puts it on the radar screen before the general public.

How the Portals Build Their Brands

Industry Standard, June 7, 1999,1449,4840,00.html

At-a-glance look at the TV campaigns being waged by the major portal sites.

Lycos’s loop has users reconsider rivals, April 2, 1999,4,34588,00.html

I’ve been meaning to mention this change at Lycos that happened some months ago, in the context of the Company Names Test that I run from time-to-time. Basically, Lycos is popping up special pages if you enter “Yahoo” or “Excite.” The pages are a bit heavy-handed — they make a pitch for sticking with Lycos, instead of going to the competing site. But they do provide a link at the bottom to the service that users are after — which is more helpful than what some search engines were providing, the last time I ran the test. But do a search for “Infoseek” at Lycos, and you’ll see what would really benefit users more — a big link that says “Infoseek’s home page” at the top of the results.

Here Come The Search Engine TV Ads
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 5, 1999

Details on new and planned campaigns from Excite, Netscape and Go.

Netscape takes its message to the masses

Wired, Dec. 17, 1998

The second story on this page provides a few details about Netscape ads.

Net search engines find TV ads

San Francisco Business Times, Oct. 12, 1998

A nice summary of the current round of search engine television ads that are underway.

NBC Bolsters Snap

Wired, July 20, 1998

Details on NBC’s plans to begin promoting Snap on television. Past television ads by other search services have helped increase traffic, at least temporarily.

Infoseek looks for visibility

San Jose Mercury News, July 21, 1997

Infoseek looks for an ad agency to help prepare its first print and television ads.

Search engines weigh impact of TV campaigns

Ad Age, June 1997
— no longer online —

Examines moves by search engines to reach out to consumers and potential advertisers via television.

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