Ask logoI saw a couple of new adverts for Ask.com on the eye of hell Tuesday night. I’m pretty sure this makes five different campaigns in the past 18 months or so. We had…

  • One that took place in a café full of animalistic searchers, and that one Ask user who evolves, plus one with some scientist types being described as “animals in pants” by an ape. These, I’m sure, were massive hits with the intelligent design crowd.
  • The series with Apostolos Gerasoulis himself (founder of Teoma) pointing out what a “pimped out” search engine Ask is.
  • Two or three spots involving people talking about “the algorithm” and yucking it up over their friends who just didn’t get it.
  • Those god-awful singing and dancing “I got what I was looking for” ads, featuring searches for [Kato Kaelin] and [chicks with swords].

Apostolos Gerasoulis and a kidAnd now we get a couple of new ones. In these, the only sounds are a few musical notes at the end and the sound of a user clicking (must be using IE, so how smart a searcher can it be?) as s/he shows us the beauty, the splendor, the majesty, and the usability of Ask’s GUI. One of them shows how a search for San Francisco offers lots of options, such as different media — images, maps, images from news stories, or the Wikipedia entry on the city, direct information — the time and weather in SF, or the opportunity to narrow or expand the search.

In the other, we get to learn about how we can make our searches more pleasant by choosing wallpaper (they refer to it as a “skin”) from a dropdown list:

  • AskX – the Web 2.0-ish interface they introduced a few months ago
  • Azul – a bench, ostensibly in London in front of a blue backdrop
  • Cartas – a mail slot on a red door
  • Flower
  • Golden – wheat
  • Pink stripes
  • Polka dots
  • Rotunda – Sorry, I don’t know what building’s rotunda it is
  • Timber Brume – A forest in a bit of fog, which is apparently what a brume is
  • Western Sky – at sunset, of course, and
  • Default – that boring interface we all hate so very much.

The thing is, the “skin” only appears to skin ask.com. Run a search, and it’s gone until you go back to the home page. So… big deal.

Are these ads going to help Ask? Maybe the one involving how useful the engine is might bring them up from a distant fourth to a close fourth, but the skin ad really doesn’t strike me as a reason for anyone to switch.

I guess I’d like it if Google had a bit more competition. All three of the other supposedly big four are on the eye of hell, trying to get the public to give them a try. Big old Goggly Gogol has yet to stoop to advertising on the tube, and I’m still waiting for the day when Paris Hilton looks out at me from the dreaded eye and says, “iGoogle. Do you Google? Wanna Google with me?

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