Ask Jeeves Adds Paid Search Today

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Joining Google, Yahoo and MSN in the paid search game, Ask Jeeves launches its own ad program today. The auction-based paid search service is available to current Ask Jeeves advertisers today and rolls out to new customers starting Aug. 15.


Ask Jeeves, Oakland, CA, also will integrate IAC Partner Marketing, the advertising and integrated marketing solutions group of IAC, with AJinteractive, the advertising solutions and sales division of Ask Jeeves, to form IAC Advertising Solutions. Headed by Paul Gardi, Jeeves said the division will enable a focus on the three business areas of IAC Advertising Solutions: search, media and performance advertising.


Jeeves seeks to differentiate itself from other paid search programs by offering advertisers access to its syndication network, which now includes IAC/InterActive Corp. properties (after the media giant acquired Jeeves) in addition to already established syndication partners such as Clear Channel Radio, Excite and iWon.


IAC has a network of media and entertainment properties including Ticketmaster, Match.com, Expedia, Hotwire, Hotels.com and RealEstate.com.


"When the advertiser is buying through our system, the IAC properties will be evaluated as syndication outlets," said James Speer, vice president of advertising products at Jeeves. Also, the Ask Jeeves search box will be added to several IAC Web sites.


"All the IAC properties would make this a very attractive opportunity, even for smaller companies, to be able to advertise on something like the Home Shopping Network [Web site] or Evite.com," said Chris Winfield, president of search marketing firm 10e20, New York.


"It's a network [that] advertisers and marketers will want to be in," agreed Kevin Lee, chairman of search marketing firm Did-it.com, New York.


Jeeves said its relationship with Google -- its ad partnership with Google expires in 2007 -- will not change.


"We're very happy with the partnership we have now," Speer said, noting that Google ads "represent a percentage of revenue, not the whole thing" for Jeeves.


Still, under the new program, Jeeves' paid ads will get the top three spots, above Google's listings.


Jeeves will benefit from developing its own paid search program and eventually letting Google go, Winfield said.


"[Google's] AdWords has played such a major part, to the detriment of the search engine [Ask Jeeves]," he said. "Google sponsored listings are the first 10 listings, and it has always kind of cheapened it."


Jeeves' ad program is similar to other open-auction ad programs. Cost per click is determined by the maximum bid and what other companies are willing to pay for the same click. Ad rank is determined by multiplying each listing's maximum cost per click and click-through rate and comparing it to other listings that have purchased the same keyword.


The higher the value, the higher the listing's position in the search results.


This approach gives customers more control over their rank while ensuring that Jeeves has the most relevant search results possible by rewarding those who have higher click-through rates with a higher position, Jeeves said.


The difference in Jeeves' paid search program versus others, Speer said, is that Jeeves uses daily spending targets, not monthly. In systems requiring monthly spending targets, a spike in queries on the first day of the campaign could "consume their entire budget," he said. "A daily spending cap allows them to pace the campaign over a month period."


The program also offers real-time reporting on click throughs so advertisers can log into their accounts whenever they want to view how many clicks they are getting.


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