April 19, 2009 / 11:01 PM / 10 years ago

Ask.com brings back Jeeves for human touch in UK

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) - Internet search engine Ask.com is bringing back Jeeves, the quintessentially English butler who serves up answers to search queries, saying its British users missed him after the company dropped him three years ago.

Ask is returning to its original name, “Ask Jeeves”, in Britain, and is launching a multi-million-pound advertising campaign on Monday featuring an updated, three-dimensional and less servile Jeeves than his previous incarnation.

The character is modelled on Reginald Jeeves, the capable fictional valet to bumbling English gentleman Bertie Wooster created by the 20th-century comic novelist and short-story writer P.G. Wodehouse.

“It’s a kind of warm feeling that he brings back to Ask,” Cesar Mascaraque, Ask’s European managing director told Reuters in an interview.

Ask, a unit of Barry Diller’s Internet media company IAC/InterActive Corp IACI.O, says it has stabilised its British base at 15 million users per month by improving the relevance and speed of the results it delivers and its user-friendliness.

In the United States, Ask is the fourth-most popular search engine after Google (GOOG.O), Yahoo YHOO.O and Microsoft (MSFT.O) with 3.8 percent of the market, according to industry tracker ComScore.

Ask distinguishes itself from other search engines by specialising in providing answers to everyday questions on subjects such as health, travel or home improvements asked in natural-language question form, rather than by keywords.

On his return, Jeeves will have an account on social network Facebook on which he will post pictures of his fictional travels around the world searching for answers to users’ queries, as well as a presence on micro-blogging service Twitter. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Cowell)

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