Deal is latest in a string of agreements Microsoft has struck with holding companies.
A new partnership between Microsoft and New York-based ad agency holding company Interpublic Group will have Microsoft's Atlas serve as the default ad-server for IPG entities.
Abandoning an initial goal to make Atlas an end-to-end solution, Microsoft has been "trying to break apart" the product to make it extensible, according to Randy Wootton, Microsoft Advertising's general manager of U.S. specialist sales. Doing this has made it easier to integrate Atlas with SharePoint and other Microsoft offerings, he said.
"One thing advertisers are starting to get is, `Gosh, we've put a bunch of money into IT and we already use a bunch of Microsoft stuff, so having the ad platform tied-in with that will make it an integrated piece of the IT stack,'" said Wootton. Melding Atlas with other Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, could bring companies "a lot of efficiency and better bang for the buck," he suggested.
Under the new deal, advertisers will retain the right to specify Google or another ad-server system instead of Atlas, Wootton said.
Microsoft would not reveal financial specifics about the deal other than to say it "puts into place preferred pricing agreements for Atlas enterprise technology for IPG clients." The company said IPG companies manage an estimated $30 billion worth of worldwide media billings for its customers.
The IPG partnership may be part of a trend in which holding companies are taking a more active role in ad server endorsement. "We've had five deals over the last eight months with holding companies," he said. "This is falling in line with these more strategic relationships we are having." For Microsoft, these high-level deals are opening doors at agencies that were previously difficult to enter. "In the past, we sold on an agency-by-agency level," he said. "It was a hard-sell, trying to get people to jump between different offerings."
The deal allows Microsoft to put on "road shows" showcasing its advertising wares to IPG agency executives, meetings that are traditionally "tough to get," Wootton noted. 'When you have the support of a strategic partnership behind you, those heads of agencies and subsidiary agencies take that call and are open to it in a different way than if I were just knocking on their doors."
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