An accessible offering
The new branding incorporates ad offerings across MSN and Windows Live as well as the upcoming Xbox and Office Online. The effort also includes the new Windows Mobile and IPTV ad products. The goal is to bring together these various ad products and services into an accessible offering for buyers, said Joanne Bradford, corporate VP-global sales and marketing and chief media-revenue officer at Microsoft.
"We're addressing the reality of media fragmentation," Ms. Bradford said. "It is our responsibility to clearly articulate to advertisers how they can apply our broad set of assets and relationships to reach consumers across the many digital touch points of their day."
Microsoft has been aggressive in its pursuit of ad models other than its own, recently acquiring in-game ad provider Massive, and striking a deal with social network Facebook. The Facebook deal is expected to give a huge boost to Microsoft's AdCenter web-ad platform, which has struggled to secure major distribution deals since its launch last year.
Up on its Soapbox
Also, earlier this month, Microsoft soft-launched a video-sharing service named Soapbox, which will remain ad free until its official release six months from now. MSN's video page presently attracts some 11 million monthly unique users. Like rival portals' video offerings, MSN carries streaming news, entertainment and sports video clips from over 45 content partners including NBC's "Today," Fox Sports, MSNBC, JibJab Media and Fox Entertainment Group.
This summer, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said research-and-development spending would reach $1.1 billion in the 2007 fiscal year, up from $500 million in 2005.
Projects include further refinement of the MSN AdCenter Contextual Network, Microsoft's answer to Google's AdWords search-advertising platform. Other new ad products in the works include a demographic predictor for websites and a tool that allows users to click on products they've spotted on TV shows.