Just two weeks after announcing a limited launch of a new paid search advertising product, Ask Jeeves has expanded the program and made it available to any interested advertiser. Dubbed the Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings program, the new auction-style system was designed to allow advertisers of all sizes to purchase and manage campaigns on the Ask Jeeves network of sites. The ads will appear above the current Google AdWords listings, though many within the industry expect that they will fully replace AdWords before Ask Jeeves' contract with Google expires in 2007.

Dana Todd, founding partner of SiteLab International, Inc, and President of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization commented on the launch of the new program by pointing out the benefit to marketers who couldn't previously afford to advertise directly with Ask Jeeves. "The new Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings system will be a welcome addition to the search advertising marketplace for several reasons, one of which is direct control over placement on Ask Jeeves," said Todd. "The system will enable advertisers to purchase visibility on Ask Jeeves and its syndication network at current market price, an improvement over the previous product which involved a fixed price for the entire contract term."

Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings will allow both large and small advertisers to purchase and manage their ads through a self-serve style system like those used by Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. The Ask Jeeves team points out that the ability to directly manage campaigns, rather than purchasing placement on Ask.com through AdWords, is a benefit to advertisers because it will allow them to more effectively optimize their campaigns for the Ask Jeeves market.

According to the Ask Jeeves team and Ask Jeeves owner InterActiveCorp (IAC), the response to the new offering has been strong among those invited to preview the system earlier this month. "Our existing advertisers have embraced the new Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings with overwhelming enthusiasm, increasing their budgets and total number of listings," said Paul Gardi, executive vice president and general manager of IAC Advertising Solutions. "We look forward to now extending the product to an even broader base of advertisers."

So how does this new announcement impact the world of small businesses? The answer is easy...it gives smaller companies the ability to directly purchase advertising on the seventh largest global web property. It's important to note that as this program rolls out further, it's highly likely that the advertising reach will expand to include the entire Ask Jeeves network of sites. That means that small businesses will likely also be able to directly purchase and manage ads that run on Ask Jeeves partner sites like Bloglines, Excite, iWon and My Way.

It's also important to note that Ask Jeeves owner IAC also owns popular web properties like Match.com, Expedia, Trip Advisor, Service Magic and CitySearch, among others. That means that an Ask Jeeves paid search advertising program could end up reaching enough of the web to make it a viable source of competition for Yahoo!, Google and MSN. Moving forward, chances are good that any business looking to launch a comprehensive paid search advertising campaign will need to give serious consideration to the Ask Jeeves program.

Ask Jeeves expects to long their new sponsored listings on Ask.co.uk some time in the next year.

Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings are available to interested advertisers at http://sponsoredlistings.ask.com.

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August 15, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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