MSN Campaigns For Search Share in Integrated Effort

  |  February 1, 2005   |  Comments

Global campaign is Microsoft's biggest since it introduced the butterfly logo.

Microsoft's MSN is expected to take the wraps off its algorithmic search product Tuesday. It hopes to jumpstart adoption with its biggest online campaign ever, which will be accompanied by TV, print and outdoor placements in 25 countries.

Though MSN wouldn't divulge how much it will spend on the campaign, the company says its outlay will surpass what it spent on the launches of MSN 8 and MSN 9. Spending on MSN 8 was reported to be in the neighborhood of $300 million.

"It's the biggest global campaign since the introduction of the MSN butterfly," said Chris Cocks, director of global campaigns for MSN.

The company hopes to propel itself higher among search players. Currently, it commands 16 percent of search share, as compared with Yahoo's 32 percent and Google's 35 percent, according to comScore. Before today's launch, the company used Yahoo's technology to power its algorithmic search.

"Microsoft, and MSN specifically, is really just getting into the game at this point," said Jane Boulware, corporate VP of MSN global marketing. "We feel like we've got a very, very strong offering and we're not shy about letting the world know."

Possibly the biggest element in the marketing campaign is a redesign of the home page, which gives more prominence to the search box. The search box appears in ads across all media, as well, as it did in Yahoo's campaign to promote its search service.

"We've taken the search bar and made it the star of the home page and the overall campaign," said Cocks. "Whenever we ask a question in the campaign, the search bar comes to life."

Agency of record McCann-Erickson was the main force behind the campaign. Avenue A/Razorfish handled online media buying. Austin-based T3 helped with online creative. 42 Entertainment, the guerilla marketing agency behind the online promotion for Steven Spielberg's "AI", is doing grassroots and viral marketing work, but MSN wouldn't divulge specifics.

An early version of a TV spot shows a box pulsating and changing shapes -- from a gorilla, to an astronaut, to a heart, to an elephant, etc., with each change more rapid than the previous one -- while an audio montage of news clips plays in the background. Then, it becomes clear the box is the centerpiece, and the "search" button appears. An announcer says, "There's a new way to search," and the MSN butterfly flies out of the search box. The tagline is, "Introducing the new, more precise, more powerful MSN search." A text call to action sends viewers to

While MSN didn't give ClickZ News a peek at online creative, the company said it would be similar in theme and look to the television spots. Formats employed include streaming video, Flash, and standard banners.

The online media plan includes intense exposure across the MSN network, as well as buys on sites inclucing CNET,, and

"We tried to select sites where there's a high degree of usage by MSN users," said Cocks, explaining that the campaign was initially aimed at reaching those who already used MSN.

TV buys were chosen with Internet usage in mind, as well.

"We built it around the concept of searchable events," said Cocks. "We want to be in places where people are both watching TV and using the Internet at the same time."

To that end, MSN chose to advertise on national cable, and then picked local DMAs with a high concentration of searchers. In those markets the company made local buys on broadcasts of high-profile events including the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards, the Academy Awards, and the NCAA Championships.

TV and online will be the main drivers of the campaign in the U.S., but print and outdoor ads will appear in other markets.

The main thrust of the campaign will continue for eight weeks, when MSN aims for 90 percent reach online and offline, and expects to deliver more than 40 impressions to each target.

"Right now we have programmed out the first eight weeks and we'll be evaluating the sustaining portions of the campaign," said Cocks, adding the company plans to keep the effort going throughout the year.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Pamela Parker

Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive 9 Strategies to Engage Your Consumers White Paper

9 Strategies to Engage Your Consumers
Online marketing apps are highly engaging - taking visitors on short, but effective, conversion-focused journeys. This white paper illustrates 9 strategies to engaging consumers through app-like experiences.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?



    • Sr. Paid Search Manager
      Sr. Paid Search Manager (Bisk Education) - TampaCurrently seeking a Sr. Paid Search Manager in Tampa, FL for Bisk Education! Bisk Education is a...
    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora,, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...