Join the Ask revolution…or maybe not!

With all the recent furor surrounding Google’s purchase of Doubleclick (and the rumours flying around that they are on the verge of snapping up just about every media and technology company going!), I was interested to see a rather timely Ask poster campaign in a local student pub toilet last week (I was there to watch my brothers band, honest!).

The feeling among those in the know (and trust me, the average person on the street does not know…or probably care!) is that Google’s continued domination of the search market, and their movements into radio and tv advertising should be a major concern; quite simply they are becoming too powerful in their pursuit of ‘organising the worlds information’.

However, as I point out above, how many of the 75 or so per cent of people in the UK who cite Google as their number one are actually aware of this dominance and their continued diversification into new areas of advertising? Well, Ask are currently targeting those most up for revolutionary thought and change, the student population, with a rather clever poster campaign.

It centres around ‘an underground revolution’, aimed at getting users to adopt the ‘other’ search engine. Unfortunately, for Ask, the ‘other’ search engine in most people’s eyes would be Yahoo, but that’s another story.

Back to the poster…I am asked to visit a website…at this stage I still have no idea where the poster will take me. So I am somewhat suprised when I arrive at an Ask branded site welcoming me as a ‘person of courage’ and inviting to join an underground movement of revolutionaries keen to test the water with a different search experience.

However, am I missing a point here. The page allows you to search on Yahoo, Google and MSN, Asks three biggest rivals! Why?? If you want me to try a different search experience, and for me it would be exactly that (I rarely, if ever use Ask), dont offer me the chance to go back to my familar search haunts! This just seems a little bizarre to me. If somebody at Ask can fill me in the thinking here, I’d love to hear from you!

I applaud the Ask campaign for its ingenuity; it is quite clever in its targeting and message. However, how many are really going to take notice and how many really care. Us search marketers who spend our lives keeping abreast of this most dynamic of industries are in the know; but we are a minority. I have asked my friends what they think about Google’s dominance and diversification and they look at me like I have gone mad – they really dont care too much. Its therefore going to take a lot more than a few posters in the local student pub to get the message across. Oh, and it might help if the results provided by Ask were better than those of its competitors!

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