Gates' Way

Q&A: Bill Explains How He's Going to Ride the New-Media Wave

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Advertising Age: In recent years you've developed a keen interest in media, from Slate to NBC, and in 1989 you started Corbis (see main story). Why were you so interested in media?

Bill Gates: The digital revolution is changing a lot of things. One of the most exciting things is the way it is changing the media business. Letting you find information in a simpler way; letting you organize an advertising campaign using resources that you wouldn't have been able to before; thinking about TV becoming interactive over time. There's a lot of change taking place, and the idea of a great content archive or software to enable that makes it very exciting. Corbis is in a part of the media business. People have often said, "Is Microsoft going to go buy a studio or something like that?" We're always saying, no, we're not, but our software plays a big role in delivering a lot of these digital-media experiences.

AA: How will online advertising evolve?

Mr. Gates: Most of the publications that you read in print today over time you'll more and more read those off the screen. TV will be delivered over an Internet delivery vehicle, so that the ads are targeted at you. Even the shows are customized to your particular interests and it is not just the channels you have today but in local sports things, or things of particular interest, and so all the media is being reshaped by the Internet. Ads will be personalized, you can interact with those ads to get more information. So this is a pretty transformative thing.

AA: Do you see other platforms -- cellphones, video games -- slated for growth?

Mr. Gates: Yes ... but compared to the sort of TV-watching experience in the ads there, or as print is seen more and more on the screen, those are the biggest areas. And then search.

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