still a search engine

    March 10, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Changes to to pursue its strongest demographic won’t take away its ability to handle a keyword search.

I chatted briefly with Ask spokesperson Nicholas Graham about the company, now that the initial shock of proposed changes at the site has passed. The infamous Marge Simpson plan has morphed into “search with a focus,” and the focus happens to be on the demographic that is most typical of the user.

Women look for reference, health, and entertainment information on Ask. To serve those requests, Ask will aim at delivering answers. Don’t look for the iconic Jeeves to return; the methodology may resemble the original aims of Ask, but the butler won’t be part of it.

Ask hopes to render the answers they provide in a compelling way. They are looking to build emotional connections with their searchers.

How they plan to do this, how it will look, and advertising’s role in the repurposing all fell under the unfulfilling “stay tuned” mantra. It has only been a few days since Ask’s big reorg took place, one that sent WebProNews favorite Gary Price off the employee roster, so it is early to expect a response.

Though Graham took issue with the original reports of Ask becoming a women’s search engine, Ask’s attention to the demographic does appear to figure in their strategy going forward.

Those who underestimate the financial power of women in the world need to recall what happened when their set their clocks forward this past weekend. The change provides more daylight later in the day, when the women who largely influence and direct their household spending shop for needs and wants.

Shifting time to allow for more opportunities for shoppers to get money into the economy, that’s a big move. It shouldn’t be surprising Ask wants to direct their strategies in a similar way, and define a clearer niche for itself rather than fighting Google et al for pieces of search market share.