Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Algorithm That Killed Jeeves

During the last part of my commute (and by commute I mean 8 hour planes, trains and automobile odyssey from Pittsburgh, PA to Mountain View, CA) on Southbound 101 en route from SFO to Mountain View in a rented white chevy Malibu I passed an ambiguous blue billboard with the following inscription:

"The algorithm killed Jeeves."
So who's billboard is it? The Jeeves seemed an obvious reference to Ask Jeeves now ask.com. But who is the "algorithm"? My guess was that the algorithm was Google whose patent filings for search algorithms are dissected by profiteering webmasters all over the world.
After a little Googling...I was able to determine (about 30 days after everyone else) that the killer of Jeeves was Jeeves himself. It turns out that the ask.com algorithm killed Jeeves and this is a stealth marketing campaign.
This one is a clunker to me. My web search revealed that I wasn't the only one that thought the billboard was a Google enterprise. If your marketing refers to killing a part of a brand that your closely associated with and makes people think of the top competitor and leader in market share in the market that you're in...your marketing might not be successful.

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