Ask Jeeves to stress search in campaign

EMERYVILLE, CA: Ask Jeeves wants people to know it has more to offer than just answers to trivial questions.

EMERYVILLE, CA: Ask Jeeves wants people to know it has more to offer than just answers to trivial questions.

After a year of quietly watching Google solidify its position as the web's preeminent search engine, the question-based Ask Jeeves is launching a brand-awareness campaign.

"We really want people to know that Ask Jeeves is a search engine that can help you find what you are looking for, not just a place for trivia," said Darcy Mullin, a partner with Dotted Line Communications, Ask Jeeves' PR firm.

"Brand campaigns are vital to search engines," said Alexa Rudin, Ask Jeeves' director of communications. "Word of mouth, viral marketing is vital. It's all about the personal experience. It's a fallacy that one search engine can meet everyone's needs. Our campaign will distinguish us as a different experience. Search engines can get you great results. But how you get them is different."

PR is playing a major role in the campaign, the company's first major marketing initiative in over a year. And that means a lot of outreach to the media and analysts.

Ask Jeeves has focused the campaign on trade outlets such as Search Engine Watch, which are read by reporters at larger outlets such as USA Today, PC Magazine, and CNET.

In January, Ask Jeeves will increase its media focus with consumer publications. The company already works with magazines including Parenting and Bride's, providing relevant questions asked on its website, and where to find answers.

"We will start Jeeves IQ, a weekly report about the top search-engine questions, that we will send out each week to the press," said Rudin.

Ask Jeeves also conducted a radio tour about the most popular questions people ask. "It's more than hearing our name," explained Rudin. "It's also associating that name with being able to ask questions."

"We have a team that believes in the power of PR," explained Rudin. "We're really trying to get the word out there, and the role our search engine can play in your life."

The campaign is not about trying to beat Google, said Mullin. Instead, Ask Jeeves just wants people to come back and try the site.

"For the past year, the company has focused on its technology," Mullin explained. "They wanted people to have a good experience. We got press for that. We also got press for removing pop-ups. Now we want to drive people back for a great search experience, and rebuild that brand equity."

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