Feeds

Microsoft revamps adCenter for MSN

Doing a Google

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A thought has been torturing Microsoft of late, and that thought emerges from the business model of Google. Microsoft has long pioneered the idea of giving away a new application as an "operating system feature" and cornering a market. Google gives away applications because it always leaves a door open for advertisers to benefit from them.

It is this loophole that Microsoft moved to close this week when it announced its own new approach to advertising, with a new adCenter set of applications that will allow both MSN carried advertising, and in a direct aping of Google Adwords, other websites, to use advanced demographic data.

Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform division, opened this week's Advertising Week conference declaring that the system has gone live in France this week, and went live in Singapore at the end of August and would go to test in the US in October.

The boast is that adCenter can focus not just on the search term used by a person on the MSN search engine, but can also factor in geographic location, gender, age range, time of day and day of week, and suggests keywords based on the desired audience.

An example given was the if a man is searching for flowers he may need a florist to buy flowers for his wife or girlfriends, but that when a woman keys in flowers, she is really looking for a gardening store.

Not sure we can agree with that, but let's turn it around.

If an advertiser says: "Our buying audience is 75 per cent men," then it can show its ads to men either 75 per cent of the time, or 100 per cent.

The advertising technology that Microsoft used is supplied by Yahoo. And gradually between October and next Spring, the new systems will take over the ad serving responsibilities on MSN from the Yahoo software.

The simple truth is that not only is Google searching currently more effective and preferred over MSN search, but it has found itself in a growth area that promises to fuel its corporate growth for the next five years, as advertisers turn away from the difficult to prove ability of hyper-expensive TV advertising, towards the feedback and interaction of the internet. If Google maintains its market share of web advertising, it can continue to grow unhampered and profitable for some time, giving it ample opportunity to take potshots at Microsoft. Microsoft has to move now to claw back market share before this happens.

Some of the tools added this week include the ability to assist advertisers by suggesting alternative keywords based on the content of their own website; the ability to predict the type of search customer that will look for specific keywords, based on past history; and the service has a cost estimator that helps advertisers predict what a campaign will cost. At present when they buy advertising around a keyword search, they have no way of knowing how many people will search that word and can end up with unexpected bills if they are too successful.

Also new is a Campaign Optimization system to refine budget allocations and keywords and a Post Sales Audience Intelligence & Reporting system.

MSN currently says it has 420 million unique users worldwide per month in 41 markets and 21 languages.

Can we picture a Microsoft that offers software free, paid for by advertising?

Well no, but it needs rapidly to find a way of carving out ad market share, in order to stop Google becoming that nightmare competitor that it fears, a company that can give an operating system away which is paid for by advertising.

Copyright © 2005, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.