comScore released its February 2009 Search Engine report and to the surprise of no one, Google maintains its dominance with 63.3% market share among the top five search engines. Yahoo! comes in second with 20.6% share, followed by Microsoft with 8.2% of the search market. Ask.com is the “also ran” engine with a mere 4.1% share of the core search market.
However, what I found interesting is that when comparing the search volume from January to February, Ask.com shows an unusually high jump of 21% more search queries — despite February’s three fewer days.
Looking back at previous months, Ask.com has not experienced an increase nearly as big as this…not even double digits. So why this increase now?
Obviously I’m not privy to everything going on at Ask.com. But, I have seen television ads for Ask.com lately. With a little digging, I found that Ask has in fact been aggressively using offline advertising to promote its online search engine.
Ask Climbs on Board with NASCAR
In January, Ask.com inked a deal to become the Official Search Engine of NASCAR. According to Ask’s CEO Jim Safka,
Our goal is to win over the millions of loyal fans by providing them with the best NASCAR search experience on the Web, and introduce them to all of Ask’s capabilities when they come.
The advertising campaign features slices of life of a “typical NASCAR-loving family” as they follow racing.
Airing approximately 4-5 times during each of the 36 NASCAR race broadcasts, the :15 and :30 Ask.com spots feature content tied to that particular race broadcast. And, Ask.com is running television spots during non-NASCAR related programming.
Ask.com also has begun running a series of crawler ads on the bottom of the screen during some cable shows. The ads pose queries to viewers, who can then find the answers by using the search engine. The questions, which are tied to show content or subject matter, are appearing on 18 channels, including AMC, FX, National Geographic Channel, MLB Network and NFL Network.
Keep an Eye on the Little Engine
Of course, one month does not establish a trend. But it is a start. And with aggressive offline advertising and promotions, this may be the beginning of the long haul towards the top of the search. I’ll keep an eye on the comScore monthly search reports to see if Ask.com sustains this growth. I’m sure that Ask is saying, “I think I can, I think I can!”