Ask.com recently launched a new advertising campaign designed to bridge the gap between itself and the likes of Google in the search engine market. Unfortunately, all it’s done is generate negative publicity for the former butler powered search engine.
The campaign, which was rolled out across London, looks like a guerilla marketing effort aimed at fighting online information monopolies. The billboard and tube ads direct to potential “Movement” fighters to the http://www.information-revolution.org/ website where their manifesto is shared. An except from the homepage reads:
“…if this keeps up, who knows what could happen? One company could eventually be your only source of access to information on the Web! Controlling your mind would only be a step away! Then they’ll have you. All too easy…”
Ask.com remains fairly understated in the whole campaign with no branding on the billboards and only minor logo placement on the website. While the campaign might have been considered quite innovative, it appears the underhanded tactics have caused quite a backlash online.
The straw that broke the campaigns back was the fact that Ask.com used its search results to push the campaign. When a searcher entered “Google” in the Ask.com search box, the following ad was displayed:
Searchers are always weary when a search engine uses the Holy Grail (organic search results area) to self promote. Just ask Google who used its “Onebox” area a few months ago to promote its own services. After users cried foul, Google was quick to remove the self promotion.
While the online buzz about the campaign has been nothing but scathing, it could be a case of any publicity is good publicity. And based on the execution of the campaign, it looks like Ask.com was definitely targeting a younger market, which might actually buy into this faux “Movement” tact.