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Ask.com rehires butler Jeeves

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Ask.com has redeployed dotcom-era cartoon butler Jeeves in its battle to attract web searchers away from Google in the UK.

He's been back since November last year, but the PR operation appears to only have begun today.

The fact that nobody really noticed Jeeves in the meantime suggests the firm will need more than a whimsical mascot to regain relevance. It has about a 2 per cent search market share in the UK.

Jeeves was banished below stairs by new owner IAC in 2006, which today said he has returned in response to "user demand". Research for Ask.com showed 83 per cent of those surveyed remembered Jeeves, compared to 72 per cent who knew what Ask.com was.

Ask Jeeves, as the site will apparently be known once again, enjoyed a high profile in the dotcom era, thanks to TV advertising provided by investor Granada, an ITV franchise. The site encouraged users to submit queries as natuial language questions rather than Google-style keyword searches. ®

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