Ask Jeeves redesigns to realign as Q&A tool

Ask Jeeves, the UK division of Ask.com, is launching a raft of new products and has redesigned its homepage as part of an ongoing strategy to focus on becoming the market leader in online Q&A.

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Ask Jeeves will build new products for its users based on the most popular questions asked, but will still rely on its search engine tool to drive the majority of traffic.

In 2006 Ask Jeeves relaunched as Ask.com and dropped its butler brand ambassador but revived Jeeves in 2009 to personalise and differentiate the brand from search engine rivals Google and Yahoo! but struggled to gain dominance in the market.

Ask Jeeves owner, New York-based InterActiveCorp, cut 130 jobs at Ask.com internationally and inferred it may sell a part of the business earlier this year.

Ask Jeeves UK is the fifth largest search engine in the UK with 1.95% of the market share. Google dominates with 83.44% of the market across its websites, according to Experian Hitwise.

Ask Jeeves senior product manager Rob Sheppard says: “We have aligned globally on our Q&A positioning and that will be to our advantage this year. Q&A is where Ask Jeeves can truly differentiate itself and provide unique value to both consumers and the marketplace overall.”

Yesterday (4 January) Ask Jeeves launched a new branded bingo website in response to a high volume of bingo-related searches and the company is looking to introduce more products throughout the year.

Sheppard says: “We’re currently investigating one [new product] centred on official Government information and also considering a vertical that would help Ask Jeeves users with their computer and internet security.”

In the web redesign and within the new products brands now have more opportunities to advertise on Ask Jeeves beyond in the search results.

For the first time brands can pay for wraparound ads on the homepage and search results pages and can feature in an answer to the “question of the day”.

Butler Jeeves is now flexible and customisable and will change his outfit dependent on search results, wearing shades if a user searches for a beach holiday for example.

Clothing brands such as Ben Sherman and Gieves & Hawkes have also provided sponsored outfits for the butler on the “Dress Up Jeeves” section.

Later in the year Ask Jeeves will introduce community Q&A boards aiming to be more accurate than rival Yahoo! Answers, recruiting subject-specific experts to answer questions

InterActiveCorp also owns online brands Match.com, Vimeo and Dictionary.com.

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