Can Zwinky Save Ask? from the New York Times reports that the real winner in growing Ask.com’s search volume growth is their FunWebProducts division.
The division launched a product named Zwinky.com that enables people to create avatars of themselves online. They then place these avatars throughout their social network pages. The thing is, the only way to do this is to download the FunWebProducts toolbar, which in turn has a large search box defaulting to Ask.com
Zwinky.com is growing with the Zwinktopia virtual world. Zwinktopia allows you to use Z-bucks to buy clothing for your avatars — and those eventually will be related to real money, similar to Second Life’s Linden dollars.
The article claims that Zwinky.com and the toolbar are Ask.com’s real growth and that “The Algorithm” ads failed miserably.
Worse yet, Ask’s new advertising campaign, by badboy agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (creators of the Burger King Subservient Chicken), simply wasn’t bringing in new searchers. The first wave of ads promoted Ask’s search expertise with incomprehensible billboards that read “The Unabomber hates the algorithm” and “The algorithm Killed Jeeves.”
Algorithm, it turns out, is not one of those magic marketing words, like say free. (There is proof: Microsoft has reversed its slide in search share by offering free prizes for people who use its search engine.)