Microsoft Pushes Ad Model for Silverlight Web Video

New York Magazine Partnership First Deal to Demonstrate Product-Placement Strategy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft's next target in its bid to spread adoption of its new Silverlight video format: Madison Avenue. The comapny is reaching out to advertisers and publishers offering to bankroll technology costs in order to propagate its new video format Silverlight, which it introduced over the summer as a competitor to Adobe's Flash format.
NYMag.com's web series 'Where's Rogan?' makes use of Microsoft's Silverlight video format which uses product placements in the videos to trigger advertising around the player.
NYMag.com's web series 'Where's Rogan?' makes use of Microsoft's Silverlight video format which uses product placements in the videos to trigger advertising around the player.

The first deal: an eight-episode web series, "Where's Rogan?" on New York magazine's NYMag.com spoofing the fashion industry that is sponsored by Continental Airlines, Olay and Tresemme.

Product placements in the video trigger advertising around the player, an innovation Microsoft is trying to get other video publishers and Madison Avenue excited about. The series is getting promotion in New York magazine and on NYMag.com.

Microsoft money
What does New York magazine get out of it? The opportunity to do a web series with Microsoft footing a big chunk of the bill. Microsoft pays the tech and production costs for the video, and provided a direct line to Redmond (in Washington state, where Microsoft is based) for any technical problems.

"To develop the market, we're removing the friction cost to adoption," said Silverlight product manager Jon Rooney.

The main roadblock to the adoption of Silverlight by the ad community is that it is still a tiny player compared to Adobe's Flash. That most users will have to download the software to play "Rogan" will no doubt limit its audience.

But Microsoft's nascent format got a big boost as the exclusive player for NBC's Beijing Olympic Games, which was streamed by 50 million people during the month of August, and served as the format's coming-out party.

Adoption grows
Microsoft won't divulge how many times Silverlight has been installed, but estimates the format now has 30% penetration in the U.S.

Now that the Olympics are over, the Microsoft marketing army is wearing out shoe leather to hook up advertisers and producers with video projects that would include its new player.

Michael Silberman, New York magazine's general manager-digital, said the timed ads in the Silverlight player allowed them to produce some web video without pre-roll advertising.

"Typically we would have one pre-roll before each clip; this was an opportunity for us to experiment with other ways of doing advertising," Mr. Silberman said.
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