Ask Jeeves to Retire "Butler" Icon

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Friday, February 24, 2006
What Google's 'Above the Fold' Algorithm Means For SEO

The week has been a sad time for the Internet. As I am sure most of you already know, Ask Jeeves will be saying goodbye to their corporate icon of 10 years. Jeeves, the butler mascot for Ask Jeeves, is retiring from his duties as ask's "answer man". Instead, the search engine is slimming down to its long used but little promoted "Ask.com" domain name.

The Internet's favorite butler has been serving up answers since its creation in November of 1995. From the start, Jeeves was different than the other search services of the day. The idea behind Jeeves was not to create yet another search engine or directory, but to offer a question/answering service. Mr. Jeeves was basically a virtual online concierge. At that time, AltaVista had just publicly launched and Yahoo!, although popular, was still a small operation hosted on Netscape servers. My, how times have changed!

Why is Ask Retiring Jeeves?

The move to retire Jeeves as the face for Ask.com is likely related to recent IAC / Ask Jeeves acquisition that took place last year. Was this a good move? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Shifting ones brand when it's already a focal point within the industry it occupies is often at times very dangerous. While Jeeves is just a static drawing of a butler, the Jeeves character has come to mean a lot for people over the years. There are people who take Jeeves very literally. They think of Jeeves as the guy behind their searches, a cartoon man giving them answers. Jeeves is what makes the site unique for these people, pure and simple.

Furthermore, I believe the timing is all wrong for this move as well. Ask has just expanded their search technology and has launched their own paid placement program. They are now in a position to compete on the same levels as MSN, Yahoo!, and Google, and then they decide to make this drastic change to their image. My philosophy is simple... why change what isn't broken.

Saying Goodbye

Jeeves' isn't leaving with our first saying "Goodbye". The people over at Ask created a retirement website where visitors can read Jeeves' official resignation letter, cast a vote for what he should do during his retirement, and even sign his retirement card. In addition, Ask put together this very funny going away video.

So what does a mid-aged search engine butler do after he retires? Does he golf? Does he fish? Does he take in a few ball games? Does he become one of those slow Sunday-driving elderly that get mad when you step on their lawn? Wwhatever comes of Jeeves, I wish him all the best.

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Yahoo! Search Marketing: Dropping The Ball

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Yahoo! Search Marketing: Dropping The BallAfter speaking with several of my colleagues this morning about our recent displeasure with the Yahoo! Search Marketing platform and specifically with their lack in customer service, I feel the need to vent my frustration through blogging. Yahoo!, without a doubt, has "dropped the ball" in their recent customer service efforts.

Yahoo! Search Marketing: Dropping The Ball

After speaking with several of my colleagues this morning about our recent displeasure with the Yahoo! Search Marketing platform and specifically with their lack in customer service, I feel the need to vent my frustration through blogging. If you're new to my blog, please know that this is very uncharacteristic of what I normally publish. However, I am hoping that by making my grievances public, that I will have provided a platform for others to air their frustrations as well. Maybe some good will come from all of this bantering. If nothing else, maybe I'll feel better.

Yahoo!, without a doubt, has "dropped the ball" in their recent customer service efforts. I wish I could place blame on a single employee who was rude or unhelpful. However, that would mean having had an actual conversation or correspondence with a Yahoo! employee. Instead, our problem stems from the fact that no matter how hard we try or which contact channels we choose, we're unable to even get a response from our supposedly "always available to help" Yahoo! representatives.

It wasn't that long ago that our company had a great account representative with Yahoo!. He was polite, knowledgeable, and fast on his feet when handling our requests. Just recently, Yahoo! had pulled our rep and replaced him with the "Yahoo! Search Marketing Gold Team" - a team of individuals who'd be able to do the same tasks as our one rep. Originally, I was pleased by this switch. The idea that many hands were better than 2 hands crossed my mind and gave me a false sense of security. I thought we'd be well cared for. I was wrong. When we're lucky enough to get in contact with a Gold Team rep, we find that they are not on the same page with one another, nor do they have means for solving our issues.

In addition, we were also assigned a district Representative who isn't much help either. This person never answers the phone, never replies to our emails, and never checks in with us. If we're lucky enough to track her down, say at a conference, she begins to put on a huge front like she actually gives a damn. She'll listen, take notes in her notebook, and assures us that our issues will be addressed immediately. When the conference ends, we find that our problems were never addressed, that we can't get in touch with her, and that we're back to square one. It literally is the ultimate run-a-round.

It's mind boggling to think that in order for my company to speak with their local Chicago rep, we have to purchase a plane ticket to San Jose, purchase an SES conference pass, attend the conference and hunt her down in the exhibit hall. I ask you Yahoo!, is this the kind of customer service you intended to provide?

I'll leave you with this. Yahoo!, I am well aware that you are a major player in the search world, but if you're seriously having a problem with earning our 7-figure yearly budget than I must say your priorities are a bit off. I know of several up-and-coming paid-search providers that would gladly answer their phones for a portion of what we currently spend with you. All were asking for is a little customer service.

My advice to you is simple; don't get too comfortable sitting on your thrown. Understand that it was companies like ours that helped you to build your 'kingdom', and know that it will be companies like ours that help you to keep it. It's in your best interest to take care of those who ultimately take care of you, wouldn't you agree?

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