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May 03, 2007

The Algorithm is On The Move

Ignorance is bliss.

If you get great search results, you don’t care why or how you got them.

But for more than 80% of searches, there can be more than one right answer. And even when there is one right answer, there’s more than one way of getting you there, understanding those results, or getting ideas for alternative searches. For these searches, the editorial voice of your search engine matters. Search isn’t the commodity it may, at times, seem to be.

In search, this voice is manifested in the form of an “algorithm,” a strange, funny, and--for most people--wholly unfamiliar term.

Many of you who read this blog already know what an algorithm is, and how it separates good searches from the better ones. But your friends probably don’t. Thanks to the work of the Ask marketing team and our new ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, however, that’s about to change.

You might know CPB for their superfun and standout ad campaigns for Volkswagen and Burger King (including my favorite, the Subservient Chicken viral).We've been working with them to create a campaign that champions "The Algorithm" and how it brings good search to life--from plain old “ten blue links” to popular, algorithm-driven features such as Smart Answers and Zoom related search.

No, the campaign won’t go into detail about how an algorithm actually works. We don’t want to make people’s heads explode. We just want them to know there’s something in there--think Intel Inside, Verizon’s Network, Dodge’s Hemi…heck, even VW’s Fahrvergnugen--that’s different and working to make search better for you.

You may have heard about our recent outdoor ads, which kicked off the campaign with some teaser billboards about the Algorithm. Soon, you'll start seeing our new TV spots in a
whole lot of places, from major networks to cable, from morning to prime time to late night.

So ready or not world, here comes the Algorithm, soon to take its rightful place as a household word, once and for all.

--Greg Ott
VP, Marketing

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» Now Starring: The Algorithm - Ask.com To Focus On Ranking System In New TV Ads from Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing
Ask.com Hopes Ads Compute to Buzz from the Wall Street Journal reports that Ask.com is launching a new TV and web ad campaign today, to try to generate buzz about the Ask.com search engine. The article says this ad campaign is "gearing up to a relaunc... [Read More]

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» Now Starring: The Algorithm - Ask.com To Focus On Ranking System In New TV Ads from Minefeed.com
Ask.com Hopes Ads Compute to Buzz from the Wall Street Journal reports that Ask.com is launching a [...] [Read More]

Tracked on May 5, 2007 3:56:13 AM

» Ask.com Algorithm Billboards from Duncan's Print
The algorithm killed Jeeves. The Algorithm is from New Jersey. The Algorithm Constantly Finds Jesus. The algorithm is banned in China. The Unabomber hates the Algorithm. These are the messages seen on billboards, bus shelters and transit stations in Ne... [Read More]

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» im gettin all algorithm-ed out! from Monkey See, Monkey Do ...Monkey SEO.
while needless to say i really am partial to the old ask.com monkey commercial: the new algorithm commercials crack me up, especially this one: however, i have to wonder who they are targeting in these ads. i mean, im prett... [Read More]

Tracked on May 10, 2007 12:27:25 PM

» Is Ask.com's "The Algorithm" Campaign Really Working? from Search Engine Roundtable
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Tracked on Jun 13, 2007 4:26:14 AM


IMO it's slightly clever but doesn't set Ask apart from any other search engine. Indeed each different engine uses an algo so how does that make Jeeveless any different? Volkswagen and Burger King's campaigns all invoked individuality which set them apart. I think this falls just short, but the effort is noticeable and should be somewhat successful.

Posted by: DeanD | May 3, 2007 3:49:35 PM

You guys would probably see more success by getting IAC to co-brand Ask Search on all its Web properties.

At the very least, put the Web search on Ask City.

You're killing yourselves with bad market strategy. Stop talking about bear attacks and algorithms KILLING Jeeves. Boost your visibility where it will help.

Posted by: Michael Martinez | May 4, 2007 9:33:32 AM

Ask excels, not in the results it provides, but the way in which it provides them. Features like binoculars and Wikipedia content scrapes are not algorithmic improvements to search. One is thumbnail caching and the other is content re-hosting.

I would have thought that Ask would want to bring focus away from their algorithm or relevancy of results and toward awesome UI improvements like those exhibited in AskX.

Oh, and the feature of related queries to expand or narrow results is something that's been imitated by the top two search engines. It really can't be something that is touted as being what sets Ask's algorithm apart from any other.

Posted by: Wang Xiaoning | May 4, 2007 10:32:26 AM

Don't listen to that guy I love your commercials, and I hate commercials.

Posted by: mr. closets | May 4, 2007 4:15:28 PM

For those who are extremely tech oriented - it would be nice if their could be info relating to the Ask algorithm....

Techies do not respond to marketing, they analyze right down to the DNA level....

So for them, detail analyses of the algos would be appreciated and would prompt suggestions.

Ask has in fact changed their algos in a big way, the SERPs are dramatically different - much more democratic

Posted by: Search Engine Web | May 11, 2007 10:45:41 AM

We didn’t need a butler anyhow, goodbye Jeeves and welcome Edison! At a glance the Edison algorithm has a lot of potential, more so than MSN who continues to have issues identifying authority sites, not to leave out irrelevant results. Throw more money at it Bill.

Posted by: Wave Shoppe Hawaiian Shirts | May 15, 2007 5:25:38 PM

You should hire another advertising agency, because your ad sucks. I've programming for 40 years and have a shelf of books on algorithmic design, and yet it wasn't even clear to me that "the algorithm" referred to is ask.com's algorithm. For people who don't know what an algorithm is, the ad is completely meaningless. And even if one understands exactly what the ad's about ... google's got an algorithm, a damn good one, it's on my toolbar and taskbar, they've got a great email system with nearly 4GB of storage per user,they've been around a long time, they have a great reputation ... what possible reason do I have to switch to ask.com? "The algorithm"? You might as well say "the search method" -- at least people would know what you're talking about, but it distinguishes the market leader, not you.

Posted by: truth machine | May 18, 2007 10:35:50 PM

Killing Jeeves was a silly thing to do. You should make up a story, and bring him back. It was one of the cute things about this engine.

Bring him back!

Posted by: Stacy | May 20, 2007 12:45:17 AM

Instead of spending $100m on an ad campaign, why not spend $20m on improving the ASK search? Google became No. 1 because it had a better algorithm. Isn't that what is needed to win?

Posted by: Branton | May 20, 2007 7:40:59 PM

saw the full page ad in today's NY times.
I thought it was BRILLIANT.
I wanted to e mail a copy to friends.
But I can't find a version online.
Not even at Ask.com(!)
Is there one?

Posted by: al | May 24, 2007 1:30:09 PM

I have struggled to get to this site, intrigued by the expensive spread in the Thursday Times.

It still takes too long to figure out what it is exactly you are doing. But nowhere do I see an intuitive way to find out more, or to download something.

I have an idea what an algoritm does; I always thought that was what Google floats on.

Please be clear. Remember Jeeves?

Posted by: Dr D | May 26, 2007 4:01:35 PM

What is the persons name in the BBQ ask.com commercial who has no idea about algorithm.

Posted by: nancy | May 27, 2007 1:43:03 PM

I was driving across the bay bridge into San Francisco taking the first exit coming in and saw the billboard for the first time. The one that says "The Algorithm Killed Jeeves". I think I was the only one in the car who knew what it referred to or even cared about it. Everyone else couldn't even remember it being there. Are you targeting only a tech savvy audience?

Comparing it to the other billboards there such as coca-cola's, "Enjoy, Coke" , or yahoo's, "yahoo! a great place to stay on the internet", I thought the other's targeted a more broad audience and created a mental image that stuck with them. Although your ad did stick with me, I'm in a small tech demographic that the ad would appeal to.

On a side note, I think what would help more than this ad is reducing the number of sponsors listed before your organic results. You see a page full of fat before you get to any meat. just my .02

Posted by: chair covers | Jun 8, 2007 8:32:51 PM

Where are the t-shirts? This is a brialliant ad campaign - sell me a t-shirt (no don't make it $20, make it $5 I am doing free advertising for you)!

Posted by: Harsha | Jun 22, 2007 1:02:27 PM

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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