While many second-tier Web portals have been struggling to attract ad dollars, Emeryville, Calif.-based Ask Jeeves has bucked the trend and added new advertisers to its roster. On the heels of last week's announcement that brick-and-mortar mainstay Coca-Cola had signed on, Ask Jeeves announced nine more advertisers today: Autoweb, Apartments.com, Intuit, iVillage.com, Marriott, Travelocity.com, JustFlowers.com, Toyota and Hertz. The financial terms for these deals were not disclosed.
The new signings come just as Ask Jeeves announced it would lay off approximately 75 employees, or 15 percent of the total workforce. The company posted a narrower first-quarter loss and said it expected improvement in the second quarter.
Although the majority of the new advertisers are dot-coms, Ask Jeeves vp of targeting and acquisitions Peter Hershberg remained unfazed. "We feel the dot-coms we have advertising with us are very stable companies," he said. "We want to increase our number of traditional advertisers, but not decrease the strong number of dot-coms we have advertising as well."
The new advertisers will have more online real estate to work with than in the past. Last month, Ask Jeeves announced four new ad unit offerings, including branded response, branded animation, DirectLinx and interstitials.
Chicago-based Apartments.com has signed on for the DirectLinx offering, which is a text-based unit that appears on the right side of the Ask.com reply screen. According to Hershberg, it allows advertisers to feature a short headline with a longer description below, and is delivered to users who search for relevant keywords. "It's more of an advertorial," he said.
"We like the way Ask Jeeves has set up its site," said Josh Ehart, interactive marketing manager at Apartments.com. Ehart claimed that while clickthroughs on banners have declined, "ours have gone up." Apartments.com hopes the even more traffic will be generated from the new DirectLinx advertising.