April 20, 2009

Search Engine Ask.com Bringing Back Jeeves

Search engine Ask.com is reverting to old methods with its original name, Ask Jeeves, re-introducing the iconic fictional butler into its corporate branding.

Jeeves was dropped from the brand in 2006, during a time when the search engine site began a series of facelifts aimed at increasing market share and gaining on Google.

There was brief campaigning from users at the time to have him reinstated.

According to Ask.com, the return of the valet is in response to "user demand."

Cesar Mascaraque, managing director of Ask.com, denied the rethink was a last-ditch effort to gain ground on market leader Google.

"We have seen a growth of 20% this year, so we are not struggling," he said.

"We have been focused on developing an outstanding producer that will deliver outstanding results and Jeeves is just the icing on the cake."

"Our aim is to give our users the answers they need for the lives they lead and Jeeves' role is to give our users answers in a more human way."

However, manager of the brand and digital consultancy Nucleus, Peter Matthews, said Ask.com needed to put some clear blue water between itself and Google.

"Ask is struggling, as all search engines other than Google are," he said.

"With Google, you get 90% of the market, so the other search engines - Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask to name but a few - are all trying to grab a share of the remaining 10%."

The search engine has tried a series of brands, including a TV advertising campaign portraying it as an underground alternative to Google.

The site undertook another make-over in the fall of 2008, branding itself as the search engine that could best answer specific questions.

Matthews added, "Ask Jeeves was quite a strong brand, in the sense it had brand values that were different from everyone else.

"Ask without Jeeves lacked character and while the actual product - searching the web - is very effective, in trying to be more like Google they shot themselves in the foot.

"The opportunity for Jeeves would be to get the site to be used as it was first intended - not by putting in a few key words, but by asking it a proper question.

"Not only have they got a brand issue, but they need to be famous for answering questions rather than producing reams of search results."


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