Ask.com: Crossing the Digital Divide

Recently, Ask.com has implemented an offline media campaign to get people to use their search engine. The question is "did it work?" Cutting right to the chase the answer is a whole hearted "maybe, but it sure was expensive." Let’s start at the highest level and work our way down to the details. If you trend IAC‘s spending on Ask.com against the number of unique visitors to the site you get a high level measure of the campaigns success. In the chart below we’ve actually split the spending into online media spending and offline media spending.

The first thing that pops out at you when looking at this chart is the heavy offline Media Spend in March. At first blush it looks like this did a really good job of driving traffic to Ask.com in April and May. A 30 day lag in traffic response is not uncommon. Upon closer examination I would propose that the $2.3 million in offline spending (predominantly Network TV) in March may have had very little to do with the lift in traffic to Ask.com. I propose that the traffic increase was more tied to the online spending trend.

This becomes more apparent when we observe the substantial lift in Ask.com traffic in September and October when IAC had essentially "turned off" the spigot for offline spending. Upon breaking it down to the query level or more specifically a Search Market Share level this becomes even more apparent.

Through out the period from November 2005 to November 2006, increases in Ask.com search market share has correlated most closely to online media spending and not offline media spending.

So from where we sit it appears that this offline campaign didn’t do much for Ask ( at least not yet anyway). It seems as though the folks at IAC may have been better off sticking to their knitting and focusing online.

Search market share includes web search only and is calculated based on unique queries within each session during the given month. A unique query is defined as unique user, search engine, and term with no double counting for repeat queries within a session by the same user. Compete tracks the 20 top search engines. For more information please contact Compete.

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