Ask.com And The Information Revolution

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The start of a humorous advertising campaign in England by Ask.com has drawn some lively criticism on the main website for the promotion. We tossed some questions at Greg Ott, Ask’s VP of Marketing, to try and get a better measure of the campaign’s impact.

Ask’s awareness marketing effort began in mid-March, with advertisements placed on the London Underground. Those ads have spread to other places, even being displayed brightly on city landmarks.

By the reactions a number of people have posted about the Information Revolution campaign, one might think Ask CEO Jim Lanzone was spending his vacation setting fire to petting zoos. People visited the website and expected…well, it’s hard to say. A political revolution, perhaps? That’s a consideration best left to the British government.

What Ask wanted to do here, Ott said, was to create a dialogue about what people use when they search on the Internet. We asked if Information Revolution was anti-Google; Ott said it wasn’t anti-Google or anti-any other search site.

Ask didn’t try to hide the campaign from website visitors. People saw the URL, and visited the site. Some complained that they had been duped. We asked Ott if Ask was trying to hide anything. Again, the answer was no; he noted that they had not tried to hide the registration records, which show the site was registered by Profero, Ask’s European ad agency.

Oh, and Ask’s name appears twice on the home page for the site.

“Most people don’t give much thought to the search they use,” Ott said. This goes back to the whole idea of creating a dialogue about the options available to searchers.

Google is the big cheese online; in the UK they grab 75 percent of searches performed. Anything that draws a response, shakes people out of that routine, may benefit searchers as much as Ask. Ott said that it may be the case where people all use the same search engine because everyone else does the same thing.

Even if that means missing out on potentially more useful alternatives or features, like the Smart Answers Ask displays for a number of topics.

We asked Ott about the posts appearing on Information Revolution that bordered on the vitriolic, comments that savaged Ask for the apparent crime of piquing their interest. He thinks these are a vocal minority; what they are seeing in other parts of the campaign, like the interactive ones in the street, have been received positively.

The most obvious indicator of a positive reception has been seen in the volume of free t-shirt requests made through the Information Revolution site. The first 1,000 shirts were quickly snapped up by requestors. It doesn’t seem likely the critics were asking for those shirts, but if they come around, Ott assured us more were being printed.

Ask.com And The Information Revolution
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    I thought the whole thing was terribly awkward.

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    I think that’s very unneccessary.

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