Ask launched a strange nationwide campaign, not long ago, with cryptic billboards that raise more questions than support the brand. The first, appeared weeks ago with only what looked like a blue button and the quote “The algorithm killed Jeeves”
At first glance, I thought, “what a terrible Google ad,” throwing punches at Ask like that because of Google’s renowned search algorithm. Not only is such an attack worthless and inappropriate but most internet users have no idea what an algorithm is or does, what one has to do with search, or even to whom Jeeves refers (“are ask.com and AskJeeves the same company?” “What ever happened to AskJeeves?”).
So this algorithm killed Jeeves. “Good for Google,” I said.
Boy was I wrong. Imagine what others, others not in this business, must be thinking when they see that sign.
A couple weeks later that puzzling billboard was replaced with various messages apparently meant to provide clarification: “The algorithm is from Jersey,” and “The algorithm is banned in China”
The first confirms the campaign is from Ask; their Teoma algorithm was developed in Piscataway, NJ.
It was the point about China that left me scratching my head again. Yes… it is…. so what? This is a message I would have expected from Yahoo! years ago when Google was banned from China leaving Y! the dominant engine (other than their own). Now, of course, Google is live and well in China (though still facing challenges).
So Ask is seemingly pointing out that their own algorithm, that which killed Jeeves, is banned in China.
Well there’s a selling point I’d highlight.
Has the campaign created some buzz? Sure it has (obviously). They say all PR is good PR; in this case, I’m not so sure. What good is it to run ads that leave everyone asking so many questions without compelling us to use the product or service being promoted? As you might expect, I used Google to investigate these billboards.