Continuing a push for recognition as an aggregator of strong vertical sites, Microsoft Corp. is using research to find out what marketers and agencies want from the Internet.
Aside from its MSN umbrella, vertical sites include Expedia travel, Carpoint car-buying and MSNBC news.
Multimedia Resources, Larchmont, N.Y., is in the midst of a comprehensive research project for MSN that has included interviews with marketers and traditional and interactive agencies.
BEING A MORE VALUABLE PARTNER
"Microsoft is interested in building more strategic and valuable relationships with companies . . . to be a more valuable media partner," said Lynn Branigan, managing partner of Multimedia Resources.
She said the effort is important in light of the fact that the Web is getting just 1% of all media spending in 1998. Media buyers usually admit to not understanding exactly how advertising on the Web works, she added.
Ms. Branigan said response from advertisers and agencies, which will share some of the studies' results, has been "wonderful."
The goal is to find bridges and barriers to the consumer marketplace, said Charlotte Guyman, general manager, Microsoft Online Sales & Marketing. "Then we want to work at building more bridges and tearing down the barriers."
She said Microsoft quietly started promoting its network strength about six months ago when the company began pulling sites together more closely and improved connections between sites.
MODEL PAYING OFF
The MSN model seems to be paying off, given last week's $90 million ad buy on the network over five years.
Microsoft is not the only Internet company looking to current and potential customers for advice. But as the Web's biggest ad spender and one of the largest recipients of advertising dollars, Microsoft's interest is comparable to Procter & Gamble Co.'s recent effort to bring together advertisers and media sites at the FAST summit.
"Other companies are reaching out to provide a catalyst to move the Internet forward. This is Microsoft's initiative," Ms. Branigan said. "Something is needed to get companies spending. It won't happen until companies like Microsoft take a role."
Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.