IAC has just released a new TV campaign for their flagship web real estate Ask.com. In an effort to rapidly increase search market share, the new ads will be air on national TV including NBC’s “Today” program, “Will and Grace” and “Saturday Night Live”.
Ask.com has always been considered a second tier search engine with a significant distance between itself and the top tier search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN.
The Ask network accounted for only 5.9 percent of online searches in May compared to Google and Yahoo! whom gathered 42.7 percent and 28 percent respectively according to comScore.
Bridging the gap is going to be no easy feat, but with the absence of the butler, a new more customizable search interface, and new advertising gusto, there is scope for clawing back some market share, and interestingly IAC have gone for traditional advertising to help its cause.
Ask.com is not the first search engine to rely on TV as a core component of its advertising campaign. MSN last year used a used a significant television campaign to support its new search engine, but has actually lost market share since then. Not to say this loss is attributable to the TV campaign, but it does question the effectiveness.
It seems somewhat ironic that the online companies that are stealing marketing dollars from TV stations by the millions would use their adversary for their own self promotion. I guess this highlights that fact that TV still has the broad mass marketing power coverage that other media lacks.
Ask.com adverts will feature Apostolos Gerasoulis, the company’s current EVP and founder of Teoma Technologies, a company acquired by Ask back in 2001. In an obvious pitch at the younger market, the campaign involves Apostolos researching elements of pop culture such as Hip Hop and explaining what he found.
One ad has him searching for “pimped out cars”. He highlights the intelligent text relationships in the search engine and states “Search engines understand text. Ask.com understands concepts… Pimped out cars are related; tight cars are related. Ask.com is a ‘pimped out search engine’; it is very tight.”
Whether an icon of search like Apostolos Gerasoulis getting hip with Ask.com on TV ads will drive market share is anyone’s guess, but it’s an entertaining effort. Time will tell…