Is Ask.com's "The Algorithm" Campaign Really Working?

Jun 13, 2007 • 7:13 am | comments (17) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Ask.com - Ask Jeeves
 

ask-algorithm-promotions.jpgThe other day, I was chatting with my brother-in-law while flying back from St. Louis. Some how, the conversation about "The Algorithm" commercials came up. I went into the history behind the whole campaign, describing how Edison was leaked (the code name for the new Ask.com algorithm) and it all began there. We then began seeing billboards for The Algorithm and then the buzz about the controversial nature of some of those billboards began to rock the public. Soon after the commercials began coming out and then the launch of the news Ask.com site.

My brother-in-law, who is extremely technology savvy, stopped me and said, he thought the commercials were for Google. I looked at him with concern and asked him to repeat that. He said it again, he thought those were Google commercials. He said, when he thinks of the word "algorithm," he thinks of Google. I was taken back and thought, wait a second, maybe other people think the same thing.

So I started a thread at Cre8asite Forums and received some trusted and useful feedback on the topic.

Softplus, an active SEM forum member in several forums, said:

In the beginning, it confused me as well

Google is constantly doing something with it's "algorithm". It even ranks #4 for "algorithm" (on Google).

Getting a "new" company associated with a term like that is going to be a long, hard journey....

Cre8asite Forum Moderator, Ruud added:

I'm convinced others are thinking the same. When we just had the "x hates the algorithm" stuff I was thinking they were kicking Google. "The algorithm is bad but we at Ask will do..."

The algorithm = Google.

I'm not sure how the TV spots would be viewed but your friend's reaction doesn't surprise me. Those around me who are not that computer savy do relate the word algorithm to Google... Go figure.

EGOL, moderator as well:

"Ask the Algorithm".... means... SEARCH GOOGLE.

Ask.com has two problems... lack of brand awareness... and because they have lack of brand awareness, a much stronger brand such as Google can usurp the word ASK right out of their commercial.

The feedback in the forum continues, it is overwhelming and all dead on.

Ask.com cannot get out of the shadow of Jeeves. Many miss the character, many miss the personality and many miss what it stands for. If searchers want an "algorithm," they will go to Google. I know Ask.com wants to change all that, but is it too late?

Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.

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Comments:

Cary W

06/13/2007 07:30 pm

Anything is better than their "Zwinky" campaign that has showed up in super-annoying banner ads all over the internet and even in some TV commercials. Yeah, because cutesy looking avatars is what people think of when they want to search the internet. Worst marketing department ever.

mancfrank

06/13/2007 08:16 pm

People hear 'algorithm' don't recognize 'Ask', think Google.

Carlos B.

06/13/2007 08:47 pm

But what's the audience in mind for this ad? Do most "non-techies" think of google when they think of algorithm? Ask.com would probably be better off becoming a "answers.yahoo.com" type of site anyways.

Brian Blessed

06/13/2007 08:57 pm

...So the nice bright "Ask" logo and complete lack of the Google logo confuses people...how? To be honest, if you don't get these ads, then you should have your Internet license revoked. By the way, I don't work for the advertising company that created these awful commercials. This Digg thread will probably create more brand awareness than such terrible attempt at irony.

injury

06/14/2007 04:04 am

Agree with Brian the commercial has the ask.com logo on it, people confusing it with google is rather dumb. My problem lies within the fact I can see a new era of overusing and misusing the word algorithm. And while in the beginning it may boost ask.com due to it's popularity (if people with eyes notice the ask.com logo) I think it would lead to just a short term boost til the fad dies then it becomes passe to even use ask.com all because of a commercial. Meanwhile we're stuck with years of bad jokes about it (Chuck Norris anyone).

Kevin

06/14/2007 04:57 am

If you didn't WATCH the ad, and only listening to it you wouldn't necessarily have the visual cue to know it's not google. All you would go on is what you were hearing. To be fair, I have not seen or heard the ad, but I can see where a mistake could be made if the ad did relied only on the visual cues and not auditory ones as well. Do they clearly state "ask.com" not jsut "ask the algorithm" in the advertising?

Kevin

06/14/2007 04:59 am

There is an extra "did" in there and just . It's late where I live. Sorry.

Paul Evison

06/14/2007 08:44 am

My opinion is that the "algorithm" campaign is weak; I'd be suprised if non-techies associate the word with anything at all and frankly why would they care? "Just give me relevant results". (I'm also *really* suprised that techies associate it just with Google! I did a computer science degree and the word has a completely different non-Google specific meaning for me. Having said that I'm not really a techie either...) Anyway, I think Ask should just focus on their new interface; it's really good! It's genuinely different from their opposition and if they can just get people to try it I reckon they will start taking market share. Having watched my boss literally "play" with the new interface on Monday for half an hour with a big smile on her face whilst she constantly commented "oooo that's nice" I think they're on to something...

Mukesh

06/14/2007 11:10 am

check out thealgorithm.com - ranks 4th for the keyword thealgorithm in google

mark

06/14/2007 06:49 pm

I think you meant you were taken "aback." :-)

John W Ellis

06/21/2007 12:52 pm

The problem is Ask is trying to hard to compete with Google and Yahoo. That idea needs to go. By trying to compete with Google, it becomes obvious to the consumer. That will just remind the consumer that Google is still #1. Ask.com needs to be its own system, unique. The commercials may be entertaining, but so what? That does not convert to revenue. And the algorithm advertising has got to go. Frankly, dare I say it; we don’t care as much about algorithms are even accurate results. Yes, it’s important but it’s not our top priority. http://www.johnwellis.com/marketing-advice-for-askcom/

Dan H

08/22/2007 08:37 pm

in a word -no it's not working. Agreed hardly a priority.

gomi

08/29/2007 01:00 pm

@Brian, injury, he was talking about what comes to mind when people think "the algorithm," not when they see the commercial. You may have eyes but you can't fucking read, douchebags.

Toby Graham

10/23/2007 08:22 am

might be me, i don't watch adverts, I live in the UK etc etc but has anyone ever seen a Google advert? There when the Ask advert appeared at no point did i think it was a Google ad. I think it was a bold move to have a pop at Google and it had an effect in this country where people went Ask to have a ganders.

kevin w

06/08/2008 07:57 pm

what everybody seems to be missing here is that ask.com simply sucks!! There results are mediocre at best but littered with ads and spam. What's funny is that if you search "chicks with swords" like in their new ad, you won't get shit. I tried them out because they had a few interesting new features but bone if them are worth it considering that you are getting pathetic results from a horrible algorithm. The new ads are just full of shit so don't ever use ask

kevin w

06/08/2008 07:59 pm

sorry I meant none of them. Not bone if them. I'm typing this on an iPhone so its kinda screwy

Jez Toll

01/10/2009 04:26 pm

How do Google do it?

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