Ask Jeeves Searches For Users with Ad Effort

In the wake of MSN’s new ad campaign for its search engine, second-tier player Ask Jeeves will ratchet up its marketing, too. The company is expected Monday to kick off a television component to its ongoing multi-media ad campaign.

Spending for the TV effort wasn’t disclosed, but the company previously said it planned to spend more than 40 percent more on marketing in 2005 than it did last year. The television buy will work in conjunction with online, print and outdoor ads already running.

“Relevancy tests show Ask Jeeves search technology is on par with everything else that’s out there,” said Greg Ott, Ask Jeeves’ vice president of marketing. “Our investment in television is really about trying to close the brand gap rather than the technology gap.”

A recent Keynote Systems research study found Ask Jeeves fourth in customer experience after Google, Yahoo and MSN, but researchers said the company had shown a significant improvement. ComScore figures show Ask Jeeves lagging behind Google, Yahoo, MSN and America Online.

The six 15-second TV spots that aim to change Jeeves’ lackluster rankings were created by TBWA/Chiat/Day San Francisco. In each, someone asks a question of a wildly inappropriate source, but he or she can’t answer. Those questioned include “American Idol” reject William Hung and “Animal Adventures” star Jack Hanna. The spots conclude by suggesting people search Ask Jeeves. The tag line for the campaign is “Ask Jeeves. And get what you’re searching for.”

“We feel it is very strong,” said Ott. “They are humorous spots that play out what happens when you go to the wrong source for information.”

Spots will appear on prime time, national cable and syndicated television. On network TV, they’ll be seen on Fox programming, including “American Idol,” “Arrested Development” and “The OC.” Syndicated programming on which they will appear include “Will & Grace.” Cable buys include VH1, Comedy Central and E!. OMD handled media buying duties. It also handles online buying for Ask Jeeves.

Online advertising creative will be updated to complement the message delivered by the television spots.

“We’ll be using similar copy and similar messaging,” said Ott. “We’re really happy with our online marketing strategies. We have a strategic and efficient online media process and it has become a nice backbone.”

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