Microsoft starts testing of advertising network
Microsoft on March 15 announced that it has started testing display advertisements across its Microsoft Office Live, Windows Live Mail and MSN Spaces websites. The multi-market tests include advertisements from such global companies as Coca-Cola Brazil, JCPenney, and Monster Worldwide and marks the beginning of providing advertisers with broader access to Microsoft's valuable online audience, according to the company. This effort will help generate revenue to provide consumers with a wide array of free and low-cost online services such as Web hosting, e-mail and Web services, noted Mircrosoft. "Advertising is a very important business model for Microsoft worldwide because an increasing number of advertisers are becoming more global," said Joanne Bradford, corporate vice president for Global Sales and Marketing at Microsoft. "With ad-supported software opportunities, we're able to offer great services at low or no cost for our consumers and a vast ecosystem for advertisers." Coca-Cola Brazil, JCPenney and Monster Worldwide are among the 20 global marketers participating in the initial ad tests. The results of the multiple ad formats being tested will help determine which ad offerings provide the best return on investment for marketers while adding value to the consumer experience. Windows Live display ads are currently being tested in MSN Spaces in Australia and Italy, and Windows Live Mail display ads are being tested in various markets across the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Office Live display ads are initially being tested in the US and immediately sold out of their available openings for beta advertisers. Tests will continue on these and other Microsoft sites and services throughout 2006, while additional research is underway with approximately 100 advertisers in nine markets to verify advertisers' needs and best practice advertising solutions for Windows Live. In November 2005, Microsoft outlined its Windows Live and Office Live online services vision and highlighted an advertising network in which marketers would be able to create more meaningful connections with customers while providing advertisers with the unique opportunity to connect with a new and highly coveted audience, which includes small-business owners. Microsoft will continue to invest heavily in MSN.com, as well as continue to explore new advertising opportunities on Live.com, OfficeLive.com, Microsoft.com, the Xbox Live service, Internet Protocol television (IPTV), mobile devices and other Microsoft properties. Microsoft Office Live offerings range from free domain name, Web site and company e-mail accounts that are advertising-supported to more comprehensive services available on a subscription-fee basis. The offerings can be especially attractive to companies with 10 or fewer employees, which typically lack in-house technical resources or the budget to keep an IT person on staff. Microsoft Office Live Basics, Microsoft Office Live Essentials and Microsoft Office Live Collaboration are being offered free of charge to customers during the beta program.