Ask.com scores big with foray into NASCAR

Ask.com made the call last December to throw nearly all of its marketing resources into NASCAR in the first half of 2009, making it one of the rare brands to invest during the heart of the recession. Up against search-engine titans Google, Yahoo and MSN, the company's leaders decided they had to be aggressive, harsh economic times or not.

Six months later, a new head of the company is facing a new decision: Whether to stay in the sport.

Examining the early returns, and despite the late start and a short 65-day window to conceive an activation program that launched at Daytona in February, the decision to leap into NASCAR seems to have paid off for Ask. Nielsen Online data shows Ask's market share has grown from 1.9 percent to 2.2 percent from January to June, although Ask remains fifth in the category behind ever-dominant Google (63.2 percent), Yahoo (17.2), MSN (9.4) and AOL (3.9). Another Internet measurement company, comScore, has Ask fourth in the category.

"We've seen very strong results," Ask president Scott Garell said. "It shows the activation is working."

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