Don’t Ask

April 9, 2007

For about the last month there has been an information revolution sweeping the UK. Oh, wait a minuet, no there hasn’t. What I meant to say was a dreadful ad campaign has been sweeping the UK.

It’s hard to know where to start. On the tube was an ad that caught my attention, not only was it stylish in a sort of ‘October’ Revolution propaganda style, but also quite stark in a sort of guerilla war sort of way. It was saying something about 75% of the information on the internet being controlled by one company. I immediately thought News Corporation, but I would.

I checked out the site and was completely underwhelmed. For a start I was expecting or hoping for an interesting, independent debate on the state of the internet but I found a cheap marketing trick by Ask. Apparently the biggest search engine on the planet is attempting to control my mind, according to their opening statement. The only way I’ll be safe from this pernicious brainwashing is by using another search engine. Gimme a break. Ask wouldn’t care less if they had 75% of the market would they?

Then I saw the TV ads, which at least had the Ask logo on them. But the style is all wrong, instead of a propaganda style sort of thing, it now looks like a bunch of unwashed pot noodle eating underclass have managed to hack into a satellite up link. A bit like in the The Running Man. Except the pot noodle eating unwashed look completely bored and don’t seem very bothered that they’ve done it.

Perhaps they’ve used the Ask search engine and wished they hadn’t bothered using that either.

There’s a reason that Google has about 45% of the share of searches. It has a larger index. See some info here


In the previous article to this (below) I searched for ‘prepress’ in a number of search engines and Ask produced the lowest results, lower even than an engine in beta. In defence of Ask, it did have a defined categorised list down the right hand side to further refine your search for such things as Prepress Workflows and and Prepress Operator.

I searched for ‘dupple’ in Ask, I got 593 results, three pages with lots of references to dopple and very few references to dupple. When I got to the third page displaying results 21-27 I couldn’t press the next button, there wasn’t one. What happened to the other 566 results?

Then I tried it in Google. At least Google asked if I meant dopple, I had 21,500 results. The fourth link down was what I was looking for.

Asks second post on their site has a picture saying ‘one source isn’t choice’. May be not. But Ask is only interested in the choice of search engine not information. When another search engine gives more results, then that’s real choice.


One comment

  1. I completed agree with you, Ask have used completely the wrong marketing strategy. There is a great deal of irony behind a corporate sponsored ‘revolution’ that is probably lost on the marketing executives at Profero (the company subcontracted by Ask for this campaign). They should of spent their advertising budget on developing a better product rather than risking a backlash, which imo has de-valued their brand. The whole campaign has been a complete disaster, and the lack of transparency right from the start sums it all up.

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