Apple’s is running a pretty smart website ad, one that puts a banner atop the page and a video in the sidebar. It’s another in the series of “Get A Mac” ads (you know, “I’m a Mac” “and I’m a PC”), with the video interacting with the ad at the top, and it’s kind of funny. Here’s a video of the whole page in action:
While I kind of like the ad (even if it contains the same smugness and inaccuracy of the entire ad campaign), it isn’t working out so well for Engadget. The ad has been causing audio problems, browser crashes, and wasting system resources, which appears to have caused them to take down the ad today. Microsoft should run an ad about how Apple sits around claiming everything they make is perfect and flawless, but tends to come riddled with stupid little problems.
Sorry, just clearing my throat. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, saying everything your company does is perfect is just stupid, since no one can create perfection. Microsoft screws up, Apple screws up, but only one of them claims to be just perfect. It’s becoming a bad joke at this point.
Got an email letting me know of some new features for Microsoft’s AdCenter, Microsoft’s one-stop service for buying online advertising. The new features:
This weekend, Microsoft adCenter will upgrade with new features. You’ll see improvements to the editorial review of your ads, increased reporting capabilities, and new campaign management features.
ï‚§ Instant editorial feedback on your ads and keywords during the creation process.
ï‚§ Receive one editorial e-mail per account per day for your newly disapproved ads or keywords with consolidated e-mail notifications.
ï‚§ Improved speed means your campaign updates can go live faster.
ï‚§ Intuitive reporting functionalities allow you to easily analyze and optimize your reports with interactive filtering, sorting, and graphs.
ï‚§ Flexible budgeting for your campaigns. Now you can set a daily budget target with a maximum spend per month.
ï‚§ Substitute default dynamic text to be used if your inserted keyword or placeholders cause the ad to exceed the maximum character limit.
Read our adCenter Feature Release Guide to learn how to use all of the new features from this upgrade. You can also visit our adCenter Blog for detailed feature reviews.
If you have any questions, please contact our adCenter Support Team.
The Microsoft adCenter Team
The editorial feedback lets you know if there’s a problem with your ads, such as you forgetting to fill in something, getting the length of the ad copy wrong, poorly formatted URLs, that sort of thing. Read more about the upgrade, with screenshots, at the AdCenter blog. You can also read the nine-page PDF explaining all the new features. The dynamic text, which lets you define parameters that can be inserted and changed within ad text, looks particularly useful.
Search Marketing isn’t about reaching a lot of people; it’s about reaching the right people: Buyers. Through Microsoft adCenter, you can reach out to 97 million MSN users, 83% of whom have recently purchased online.1 So sign up and start using adCenter,. ¹Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, June-07, US Home/Work Combined; Nielsen//NetRatings @ Plan, Summer 2007 Release.
Microsoft has won the fight to be Facebook’s new investor and advertising partner, beating Google in some heated negotiations and getting a stake in the company. Microsoft has not bought Facebook, but it now owns 1.6% of the fastest rising social network, paying $240 million for the stake and setting Facebook’s value at $15 billion.
Under the terms of the deal, besides owning a portion of the company (and thus receiving stock in an IPO or payment if the company is sold), Microsoft will now sell Facebook’s international advertising, in addition to the U.S. advertising it already handles. Microsoft does not lose Facebook’s ad sales to Google, which it likely would have if it had lost to Google.
The relatively small size of the buy (considering numbers like $750 million were being tossed around) could mean that Facebook did not like the terms Google was looking to get out of the deal, and decided to instead go with Microsoft for less. Alternatively, if could mean Google was looking to value the company at far less than Microsoft did, and Facebook did not want to give away too much of the company, and instead went with Microsoft’s higher valuation but lower percentage.
TechCrunch thinks that the cost to buyout Microsoft’s U.S. ad deal, which runs through 2011, would have been too high, making the Microsoft money more profitable than Google’s money. However, we know that Microsoft’s deal with Facebook would earn the company less than $10 million if Facebook was sold to someone else. On the other hand, that payout was for the original deal, which ran through 2009, while a newer deal signed earlier this year runs through 2011, and may have pushed that number higher.
Under the $15 billion valuation, other investors in Facebook now have some idea how much their stakes are worth. The New York Times explains:
The Microsoft investment throws the value of the holdings of Facebook investors into the stratosphere. Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old Facebook founder who dropped out of Harvard to build the company, owns a 20 percent share which is now valued at $3 billion. Accel Partners, the venture capital firm that invested $12.7 million in May 2005 and owns 11 percent of Facebook, now holds stock worth $1.65 billion.
Search Engine Watch reported that Microsoft has added Search Engine Marketing to the services Office Live businesses can use to help grow their websites. Customers will be able to choose from three levels of service, starting with online training and working up to full service campaign management, provided through a partnership with The Search Agency.
The first service, TSA Learn, consists of three online training modules that teach the essentials of SEM and search engine optimization (SEO). Next is TSA Launch, a selection of more than 20 one-off, a la carte SEM and SEO services. For example, a user can fill out a questionnaire about their business and get a list of potential keywords to use in their search campaign, or enter their existing keywords and get a list of expanded keywords to consider. The third offering is TSA Grow, which is a full-service option where The Search Agency manages all search marketing activities for the subscriber.
Aiming to show that the firm is now even more attractive to potential clients, Microsoft has announced that aQuantive, the online ad company it bought for $6 billion, has attracted 20 new advertising clients since the sales closed in early August. New clients include SmartBrief, Reunion.com and Entrepreneur.com, and IAC’s CollegeHumor is now using aQuantive’s Atlas AdManager.
The article also discusses a deal to use Microsoft’s ad tools in the Associated Press’s web video service, used on 1,800 major news websites.
I finally looked through Microsoft’s AdCenter Labs, a great website which shows you, to the best of their knowledge and research, the demographic data on various websites (perfect for deciding where to advertise). The information there is interesting as well as useful.
For example, Digg, a website Microsoft knows well about since it is an ad partner, has an audience that is 83% male (shocker!) and 27% of users are 25-34, with almost 2/3 of the total under the age of 34.
Meanwhile, this website is a little better. 64% of you are male, which for a tech site is probably a good distribution (more women than Microsoft Watch, Google Blogoscoped, Engadget, a little less than TechCrunch or Boing Boing, tied with LiveSide). Interestingly, InsideMicrosoft is 71% male and 29% female, while InsideGoogle is more balanced at 59/41%.
27.2% of you are 25-34 years old, another 26.8% are 18-24 and 23% are 34-49. That means that the readers of this blog are a pretty well distributed cross-section of the tech industry, unlike some blogs where the majority of readers are in a single age group, or where half the readers are still in high school. 9.8% of you are below the age of 18, but the younger readers I’ve spoken to seem pretty smart, so I’m calling that a good thing, too. 13.2% are over 50.
Ask.com is 68% female. Wow! Good for them, attracting a tough-to-reach audience.
Microsoft has finished its acquisition of aQuantive, so for the low price of six billion dollars, it now owns a major internet advertising firm. Microsoft completed the acquisition well ahead of Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, even though Google’s went through five weeks earlier, because Google is facing a pretty concerned Federal Trade Commission and Congress. Microsoft is even leading some of the lobbying efforts, saying Google’s actions are too anticompetitive, with no better evidence than its own giant, desperate purchase.
The FTC approved the acquisition only after shareholders of aQuantive voted to approve it. That vote took a real long time, all of six minutes.
The shareholder approval isn’t a surprise, considering the premium Microsoft is paying. Under the deal, Microsoft will pay $66.50 for every aQuantive share. That’s 85 percent more than the stock’s closing price before the deal was announced. As he was headed down the elevator afterward, I asked shareholder McDonald what he liked about the deal.
IAC has dumped DoubleClick as the ad provider for many of its web properties, like CitySearch, Evite and Match.com. The future Google subsidiary was replaced by future Microsoft subsidiary Atlas, itself a division of aQuantive, the ad firm Microsoft is in the process of acquiring for a bajillion dollars. As Erick Schonfeld says, Barry Diller picked his poison, deciding that if they had to use a competitor, they should help Microsoft and not market juggernaut Google.
Seriously, IAC should buy a major online ad firm. Google did, Microsoft did, Yahoo did, and IAC could stand to do the same.
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Microsoft’s aQuantive Deal Clears Federal Review
Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of aQuantive has passed the Federal Trade Commission’s waiting period for antitrust considerations without objections, leaving Microsoft free to continue the acquisiton without worry. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives is launching an inquiry into Google’s DoubleClick deal, meaning Microsoft will almost assuredly complete its acquisition well ahead of Google. Google’s deal is hitting some serious roadblocks, while Microsoft has been given the nod to go forward.
Live Maps July Update Adds Rendered Maps, 26 Terabytes Of New Data
The Virtual Earth team pushed out a huge update to the tech that powers Windows Live Maps, adding a new style that shows elevation in the regular road view. They call it “hill shading”, giving you an idea of hills, mountains and just plain ol’ inclines on maps you view in your browser or print out. They also added expanded aerial imagery (and in most cases, 3D buildings) to these cities:
Canada: Hamilton, Quebec, Toronto
Europe: Toulouse France, Eastbourne UK
United States: Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Phoenix (expanded), Arden, Denver (expanded), Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Tampa West, St Petersburg, Coral Gables, Cape Coral West, Pembroke Pines, Orlando, Hialea, Columbus GA, Jackson, Oak Park IL, Rockford IL, Ohare IL, Baton Rouge, Shreveport New Orleans, Metarie, Jersey City, Elizabeth, East Ruth, Newark, Paterson, Brooklyn, Niagara Falls, Portland (expanded), Nashville, Chattanooga, Milwaukee
Windows Live Search Has Special Preview View
This website has details on a special view that Windows Live Search has in some countries and regions (not the U.S., far as I can tell) that shows the top six search results as thumbnail image previews of the website. A Site Owner FAQ on MSN Singapore confirms the feature, and gives instructions on how to tell the search crawler not to create a thumbnail for your site (for bandwidth concerns, I assume). You can see a screenshot of the Search Preview thumnails at the original post.
Get the iPhone Keyboard on Windows Mobile Devices
Someone’s released a program that replaces the Windows Mobile on-screen keyboard with one that looks more like the iPhone’s. Besides enjoying a bolder look, it has bigger, easier-to-hit buttons, though they don’t grow in size while typing, and they use Windows Mobile’s form of predictive text input, not Apple’s. If you’re like me, and you’re still wondering how the hell Microsoft thought the current WinMobile keyboard was okay, this app is a required install.
Xbox 360 Gets Yet Another Backwards Compatibility Update
The Xbox 360 got yet another backwards compatibility update, letting it run a good number more original Xbox games. Are there any important old games that still won’t run on a 360? If you’ve got one that’s driving you nuts, leave a comment. The newly compatible games:
Kevin Rose announced yesterday that Digg was dumping Google AdSense as its ad provider, replacing it with an exclusive deal with Microsoft. The deal, which runs three years, is described by Digg’s founder as similar to the one Facebook got, which means it comes with certain revenue guarantees, and it may even come with a payout option if Digg is sold to a company other than Microsoft, just like the Facebook deal.
Digg also used John Battelle’s Federated Media, a high quality blog ad network, for many of its ad sales, and while Digg is keeping FM as an ad partner, it appears they are relying on FM only to fill unsold inventory. One of the challenges faced by a niche ad seller like FM is that sites tend to go with a bigger ad company when they get more mainstream, and FM seems to be playing it like “At least they didn’t abandon us entirely”.
Microsoft’s press release notes Digg gets 17 million monthly unique visitors. Alexa charts seem to indicate Digg peaked late last year:
Anyway, the point: Digg has low quality traffic, because of a very specific, non-diverse, advertising averse audience. I’d say Digg’s users are too “sophistocated” for ads to convert well, but the word sophistocated is unfair, since many of them are also quite young. Ads on Digg don’t perform as well as they would on a similarly trafficked site with a more diverse and older audience. Google was probably having trouble filling enough of Digg’s inventory and producing ads likely to be clicked on, forcing Digg to find an ad provider that uses a less automated approach.
Put it this way: The most common ad you’d see on Digg was for Diggnation, the site’s podcast/videoblog. That ad is a house ad, and appears when there are no ads to display. Considering that I saw that ad more often than not, obviously Google was doing a poor job. Hopefully Microsoft will do better. I hope Rose demanded to see the success of Microsoft’s work with Facebook, or he got a good revenue guarantee, before signing the three-year deal.
Either way, this is excellent for Microsoft, which claims another high profile ad partner. Even if it makes no money off Digg, the deal raises its profile in the online ad world, and could attract other popular websites to join them.
Microsoft and its Massive division, which sells ads inside video games, announced a deal to provide advertising inside EA Sports games. Games included in the deal are Madden, NASCAR, Tiger Woods PGA, NHL, and Skate. The deal should bring some good revenue back for the $200 million Microsoft paid for Massive, and dealing with such a large industry player should help Microsoft hold off Google in this growing arena.
Valleywag talks about the fact that has been thrown around recently that Facebook is a good buy because they will earn $100 million this year and turn a profit, and how that’s a bit misleading. The part people fail to remember: Microsoft made a deal with Facebook almost a year ago to provide advertising for Facebook, guaranteeing a certain amount of money to Facebook through 2009, so Facebook might not actually be making any money except the money that Microsoft owes them.
On the other hand…
Microsoft is in the unique position of knowing first-hand how much money Facebook can pull in through advertising. They sell Facebook’s ads, track their page view stats, analyze conversion rates, in short, they know everything there is to know about Facebook’s commercial viability. If Microsoft bought Facebook, you’d know that Facebook was doing better than everyone thought, because Microsoft is in position to make the most informed possible decision.
Microsoft’s AdManager beta advertising service, part of Office Live, will begin selling advertising for Ask.com. Users of AdManager will be able to purchase Ask.com search ads and Live.com search ads, bringing two of the top five search engines (numbers three and four, most of the time) under the same roof for the first time in years. According to ComScore’s recent numbers, the two combine to reach 18.2% of the search engine audience, over 1.5 billion search queries performed per month.
A Digital Point forums poster talks about his experience with ContentAds, Microsoft’s AdSense-like contextual advertising program, and he’s got some good things to say. He says that it “was actually pretty sweet”, but that Microsoft needs to improve filtering and reports. He also mentions that the program will have an open beta, which is interesting and exciting news, if true.
ContentAds has been testing on a very limited basis, and there were concerns it would be closed to only the largest sites, so if Microsoft plans on making it more available, that’s just gravy. Microsoft has been force-migrating advertisers onto ContentAds, so it may be looking to aggressively do something bigger with that network.
Oh, and I’d recommend jumping into the Microsoft Affiliate Network. They’ve still got just the one Windows Live OneCare free trial offer, but I’m actually surprised how popular it was to get people to download free trials of good software. I’ve already pulled in a lot of commissions from the program.
The Federal Trade Commission is running a probe of Microsoft’s six billion dollar purchase of online ad company aQuantive, saying it is part of the normal regulatory process. They are also investigating Yahoo’s $680 million deal for Right Media, and have already been investigating Google’s DoubleClick deal, all of which makes sense. After all, with numbers that high, you expect them to at least take a look and make sure the market is being protected.
Late last month, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) sent a joint letter to the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that these types of deals be investigated.
It’s strange how all of a sudden mega-billion dollar deals are happening; there’s a reason for it, all starting with the DoubleClick negotiations, but it’s worrying the rest of the ad industry. In some industries, there’s massive consolidation over a number of years, changing an open industry into a clash of the titans, with little room for smaller players. Witness what happened with almost every content industry.
The ad agencies, of which there are tons, are worried that Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, and anyone else who wants a big chunk of the online ad market, will eventually buy a big regular ad agency, starting a tidal wave of acquisitions, mergers and consolidation that changes the entire industry and compresses it in a way nobody wants.
I talk about Microsoft products here daily, and occasionally I link to them on Amazon.com so that if a reader chooses to buy them, I can get a small commission on the sale. Now, Microsoft is offering its own affiliate program, the Microsoft Affiliate Network, for websites to use to get some extra cash when they mention Microsoft products. Signing up is easy, just head here, and it’s fast (I signed up half a day ago, and I’m already accepted).
Currently, the program only has referrals for Windows Live OneCare, but the account rep I spoke to assured me that more will be added shortly. You get $1.50 for every user who signs up for a free trial of OneCare, and can link to it with an image or text. Here are examples of the images (these are live affiliate ad images, so don’t click them unless you want to install OneCare now):
One thing I absolutly love: The ads are just GIF images with a standard HTML link. That means they’ll work anywhere, even forums and emails, and on mobile phones, and certainly they’ll work in my blog posts, something Google AdSense referral ads don’t. Google uses SCRIPT tags, very annoying, and Microsoft has gone a simpler, and thus more compatible route.
There are also six text links. These consist of blocks of regular text with the referral link included, as well as an invisible image acting as a tracking bug (for ad statistics). I’m not a big fan of the text, especially since at least one of them is gramattically incorrect, and I hope you are allowed to edit it, at least in small ways, without breaking program policies.
Help get peace of mind knowing that everything is managed for you with Windows Live OneCare—virus and spyware scanning, firewalls, tune-ups, file backups, the whole nine yards. And it’s all delivered to you in a smooth, hassle-free package. Download the 90 day free trial
Windows Live OneCare works quietly in the background on your computer, so you don’t have to worry about nasty interruptions from viruses, spyware, hackers, and other unwanted intruders. It also goes beyond security, regularly backing up all your important files and cleaning up and tuning up your computer to help keep it running at top speed. Because you have better things to do with your PC. Download the free trial.
That last one is practically a full review! Maybe Microsoft wants to do my job for me!
Anyway, this program seems exciting and is definitely doing a few things smarter. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the program as they add new products.
And if you are a regular reader of the blog, you already know how much I love OneCare, so don’t worry about bias here. If you haven’t tried it out yet, here’s your opportunity. There are only about twenty links to choose from