Microsoft Corp. said it sold $26 million in advertising for its revamped MSN Sidewalk, the latest sign the software giant's costly effort to build a Web media business is beginning to pay off.
MSN Sidewalk (www.sidewalk.com), launched in nine cities last year as an arts and entertainment guide, will be reintroduced this week as a national consumer buying guide with links to Yellow Pages, retailers and marketers.
More than 6,000 local advertisers have signed contracts, accounting for the bulk of the $26 million in revenue secured for the next 12 months, said Peter Atkins, Sidewalk general manager of advertising sales and marketing.
Local advertisers-car dealers, restaurants, stores, Internet service providers, real estate agents-pay as little as $100 a month to be part of the service.
NAT'L, REGIONAL ADVERTISERS
National and regional advertisers account for the rest of the ad mix. They include Alamo Rent-a-Car, Albertson's, barnesandnoble.com, Bloomingdale's, Continental Airlines, Eddie Bauer, Metropolitan Life, Rite Aid Corp. and Visa USA. Microsoft handles national and regional sales; local sales are handled by rep company Cendant Interactive.
The revamped MSN Sidewalk will offer advice to consumers on "what to do, what to buy and where to buy it," Mr. Atkins said. Partners will provide content on various topics. Ziff-Davis' ZDNet, for example, will feature information on computers, while Zagat Survey will offer restaurant reviews.
ADS BACK SIDEWALK
Microsoft will back Sidewalk with online ads from Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco; print, outdoor and possibly radio from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; and promotions with advertisers.
Sponsors currently pay cash for space on sections of Sidewalk. But if there is interest from advertisers, Mr. Atkins said, Sidewalk eventually may offer advertising in return for a percentage of the transaction.
"I think they've been very smart to focus on a practical buying guide," said Mark Mooradian, senior analyst with Jupiter Communications. "In terms of a way to get to advertisers, this is a way to do it. You're reaching consumers at the point of purchase, where they're making impulse buys or considered purchases."