MSN adCenter Moves Forward: Analyzing the Major Changes at Microsoft’s Online Ad Platform

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In what appears to be a coordinated move, new hire John Nicol seeks “to bring out the soul of MSN”. Search Engine Watch notes the choreography of the new management:

David Cole, Senior Vice President, MSN and Personal Services Group, will be leaving MSN at the end of April…It is interesting that about ten-days ago, we covered that John Nicol was asked back to MSN to help build the MSN portal into “what it should be,”

John Nicol
ZDNet reports Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of information services at MSN, told him the company “wanted to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build this network into what it should be,” Nicol said in an interview with CNET News.com. Previously Nicol led MSNBC and has potential of creating an entertainment powerhouse.

MSN Merges TV and Internet:
Steve Ballmer predicted this strategy years ago captured by CNet’s News.com editorial dating back to March of 2004:

“Ballmer went further, saying that in 10 years, all media dollars will wind up online, because the separation among PCs, televisions and mobile devices will no longer exist. He predicted that within a few years, people will watch most video via the Internet rather than on a TV set, because it’s more organized and packaged there.”

As Microsoft makes good to mash up the TV and Computer they will hope to share in the booming pay per click revenues of Yahoo and Google.

MSN offers Segmentation to Marketers
MSN offers marketers new tools to help target demographics such as, age, gender, location, time of day and day of week. Furthermore, Microsoft will expand their reach to other media such as mobile devices, console gaming, interactive television, even ad-supported software. These new factors will enable marketers to expand their marketing prowess and focus their strategies on new ways to segment and aggressively bid on desired demographics.

Sample Ad Set Up
As an example, you could set forth a bidding strategy with the following ad stipulations:

* Friday through Sunday only.
* 7am – 11am and 2pm – 6pm only.
* Emphasize a higher price for Females or Males.
* Set a higher price for the age group 35-50.

New Functionality
AdCenter has definitely surpassed Google and Yahoo in terms of functionality with their very first release. Typically marketers use after market bidding products to execute similar bidding strategies that are already built directly in MSN. However, with increased functionality come limitations. Both Google and Yahoo’s programs are cross-browser compatible, meaning they will work so long as you have Internet access and a standard browser. Because MSN’s AdCenter employs Active X technology, the release requires you to use Internet Explorer 5.5+ on a Windows Operating System.

New Updates to MSN adCenter announced the following feature upgrades to adCenter, 2/19/2006:

* Optimize Campaign Managment
* Easier order creation process; including targeting elements.
* Better deleting functionality
* Enhanced Bid Management
* Smarter Keyword Research Tool
* Improved Keyword Management
* Incremental bidding, where you can set a relative percentage applied across all keyword bids instead of a specified dollar amount. So if you change your base bids, the additional targeted bid now adjusts automatically.

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