Ask.com Launches Second Post-Jeeves Campaign

After showing the power of Ask.com’s tools to civilize wild primates, the butler-less search engine will launch a second wave of TV ads today showcasing one of the company’s top scientists.

Known as “AG” to his team, Apostolos Gerasoulis, executive VP of search technology, is one of the main developers of the Ask.com technology and a champion of improving the user experience of Ask.com, according to Greg Ott, Ask.com’s VP marketing.

“Apostolos brings the true Ask brand forward. His passion as one of the site’s creators really comes through on camera,” Ott told ClickZ News.

Ask.com is investing heavily in marketing this year in a bid to gain market share from the dominant players Google and Yahoo The latest report from comScore Media Metrix found Google accounted for 41 percent of search queries in January 2006, followed by Yahoo at 29 percent, MSN at 14 percent, and Ask.com at 5.6 percent.

Gerasoulis, a former professor at Rutgers University, stars in the latest set of :30 and :60 spots, created by Berlin Cameron New York. He was asked to use Ask.com to find out about various pop culture references that he was not familiar with, such as hip-hop culture, reggaeton, or cooking, and then to explain what he found while the film rolled.

In one, Gerasoulis shows how a search for “pimped out cars” can lead to useful information about custom rims and find sites that use related slang terms like “tight” or “phat” as well.

“Search engines understand text. Ask.com understands concepts,” he says in his heavy Greek accent. “Pimped out cars are related; tight cars are related. Ask.com is a ‘pimped out search engine’; it is very tight,” he says.

In another, Gerasoulis explains that librarians have always been drawn to Ask.com for the way it groups information. “If librarians love us, I think the world should love us too,” he says.

The sessions led to the creation of several :30 and :60 spots, which will be rotated into the plan over coming weeks. The ads will replace the current ads in the media buys made for the “Use Tools. Feel Human.” campaign. Those ads, created by TBWA Chiat Day, have been running since early March, when the Ask.com redesign was unveiled.

The reason for splitting creative duties between agencies was a matter of speed, Ott said. “You have to be fast moving in this industry. We wanted to have multiple projects running in parallel,” he said.

TV buys include network prime, early morning and cable placements. Online creative will not change, but will continue to stress the unique features of the site without reusing themes from the TV campaign, he said.

During parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp’s quarterly investor call yesterday, IAC Chairman and CEO Barry Diller said that early marketing returns from the “Use Tools. Feel Human.” campaign were very positive, with up to 30-percent increases in daily query volume common in April.

Ott said the current campaign has delivered “tremendous” results, with increases in top of mind awareness and consideration, as well as usage and unique users.

“Best of all, it’s helping to drive users to what makes Ask unique and better: the tools we have that help people get what they’re searching for faster,” Ott said. “We’re building on that momentum with the new campaign.”

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