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"the Algorithm" Campaign Is Google?

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#1 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 06:07 AM

I wrote the long version over at my personal blog, because it was family related, but I want some feedback from you guys on it.

In short, I was chatting with my fairly tech-savvy brother-in-law on Sunday. We were discussing "The Algorithm" commercials (he did not see the billboards). He thought the commercials were talking about Google's algorithm, i.e. they were Google's commercials.

I was taken back by that.

You and I know they are Ask.com commercials. The commercial ends with a Ask.com splash screen that looks like this:

Posted Image

But still, this tech savvy guy - subconsciously related the commercial to Google.

Do you think many others are doing the same?

#2 JohnMu


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 06:36 AM

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....

One thing that kind of bothers me about the Ask ad campaigns is that they are missing so many opportunities by not following up in the search engines. What about buying PPC for "the algorithm" and all variations (misspellings!) on Google and MSN/Live? What about "one-box" (or whatever they're called on Ask) top-results for variations of "the algorithm" (and again, misspellings - who can spell that correctly?)?

It's not just the main message ("the algorithm") - it's the same for other ones as well: http://www.seo-scoop...that-one-bombs/


Why can't the marketing people talk to the ones actually running the site and coordinate something?

With all these missed opportunities it's going to be hard to get off the ground...


#3 Jem


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 07:14 AM

Bring back Jeeves. They had a strong, loved character associated with their brand there and it worked. I think they're failing at whatever it is they're attempting with the new branding/adverts.

#4 Ruud


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 07:26 AM

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.

What is puzzling is that had we started a pre-campaign discussion here, it would have been unlikely that any of us would have forwarded "algorithm" as Ask's unique selling point. Unless they hope to steal some of this "algorithm=Google" mindshare, I don't see the purpose to this branding either.

"Instead of Google, use Ask today -- because we have the algorithm" ... uh...

Is the pun that you can read it as a sentence? "Ask the algorithm"?

Even "quality search" would have been better. Testimonials would suggest that you use one engine for everyday search (suggestion: unimportant things) but that once you needed to get some real work done (research, work, writing, buying something expensive), you turned to Ask.

"I do a lot of small online searches everyday for this and that but when I needed to decide on a high definition television I turned to Ask, of course. It was just page after page of really relevant information. I couldn't Ask for more."




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Posted 12 June 2007 - 08:26 AM

"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.

"Ask the Algorithm"...... what's wrong with asking Jeeves? That would not be confused with Google.

A guy named Jeeves was extremely popular.... everyone knew him - everyone. But his friend doubted his popularity. They were visiting Rome and Jeeves tells his friend.... "I am buddies with the Pope" and his friend said "No Way!"... They were standing outside of the building where the Pope lives and Jeeves says... OK, I'll go in and see him and we will come out on that balcony and wave to you. Jeeves goes in, comes out on the balcony with the Pope, and they wave down to Jeeves' friend. Two nuns standing nearby start waiving excitedly up at the balcony. One says to the other... "Look! Jeeves is waving to us" the other nun says.... "OMG, Jeeves IS waving to us... but who is the old man in the robe?"

Edited by EGOL, 12 June 2007 - 08:29 AM.

#6 bwelford


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 09:23 AM

I was strongly in favor of dropping Jeeves. Provided ASK does it right, in the long run I'm sure it's the right decision. What they have to do is focus on ASK. Unlike Google or Yahoo, ASK means something. So you push the ASK brand.

Don't just use ASK as a label and try to make the ASK search engine look like the others. As pointed out above, Google owns the word algorithm. They also own the word PageRank. They've had to put lots of effort into getting those 'trade names'. But the (wo)man in the street will recognize neither. That same person certainly knows what ASK means. So pour all your efforts into selling the ASK brand and the ASK concept.

#7 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 11:09 AM

I think that one of the problems with this campaign, potentially, is the dehumanization of the search engine - this marketing campaign is so strongly focused on the technology of "the algorithm", that it's almost removing the actual searchers from the equation. I think that prevents those who see the advertisements from developing any kind of personal association with searching using "the algorithm" - it's just a tool.

I'd also agree that a lot of people could be thinking that this is a Google campaign - although I haven't actually talked with anybody who thought that. (It's not a campaign I've discussed outside of the web tech realm...)

#8 victor363


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Posted 12 June 2007 - 08:36 PM

I agree with what John is saying. ASK should exploit online marketing more fully since they are trying to advertise an online service. Check out this thread for further elaboration and to see a copy of the commercial.

#9 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 06:27 AM

Thanks so much for this feedback.

Used it all on my post named Is Ask.com's "The Algorithm" Campaign Really Working? at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Honestly, I feel bad for Ask.com.

#10 busybeingborn


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Posted 13 June 2007 - 01:30 PM

According to Compete data velocity (velocity reports the relative change in daily Attention. Velocity is used to determine the relative growth of a domain over a particular timeframe or compared to other sites) for Ask.com has dropped steadily the past 6 weeks.

Maybe some of the luster comes off CPB (the ad agency). For IAC and Ask this is about as bad as it could get.

Should have spent that all that money on Google ads (like Microsoft).

#11 meriweather


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Posted 13 June 2007 - 07:15 PM

A little late, as usual, but couldn't help but comment, Barry.

Out of 5 people in the room when I first saw the commercial, 3 of them asked me if it was by Google. I hadn't been really watching (the auto-mute commercial response I learned from Tevo), and held off commenting till I saw the ad again.

But Yeah, I'd say it will cost Ask a whole lot more than the term is worth to even wrestle away a small share.

I too send condolences to Ask. Perhaps Jeeves could be persuaded to consider returning, ;-) with a raise, of course.


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