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Microsoft Weighs Ad Options for Skype

  |  April 25, 2012   |  Comments

At NewFront 2012, Microsoft also promotes Xbox as live TV ad complement.

A Microsoft Advertising executive said the company is examining new ad units for Skype, such as possibly offering a click-to-call unit.

Jahn Wolland, senior sales director, Microsoft advertising, made his remarks yesterday during the Digital Content NewFront 2012 at Microsoft Advertising's New York City office.

Afterward, a Microsoft spokeswoman emphasized that the click-to-call ads are currently not being offered in Skype. "While Microsoft is working well with Skype to maximize the value of its offerings and to take advantage of Skype's growth and reach, Microsoft is also constantly testing advertising to determine what works best for brands, and more importantly for consumers, in the Skype environment," the spokeswoman said.

In February, Microsoft Advertising said it will begin selling Skype advertising on PCs and mobile devices in international markets, including the U.K., Germany, Japan and Taiwan. Microsoft acquired Skype in October 2011 for $8.5 billion.

During the NewFront event, Microsoft Advertising executives mentioned several Microsoft platforms for advertising, from Bing search to mobile phones that run on the Microsoft Windows operating system. But the company dedicated the most of the program to promoting its Xbox Live service as a complement to TV advertising.

Microsoft's push for advertising on Xbox comes 18 months after Microsoft shuttered Massive, an in-gaming advertising network. What's different today? "That [Massive] was about placing advertising within video ads, very specifically on billboards [in the games]," said Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox Live entertainment and advertising at Microsoft. Today, the advertising options include standard 0:15 and 0:30 spots, as well as more immersive experiences such as a promotion featuring the Hyundai 2013 Veloster Turbo in the Xbox Live game, "Forza Motorsport 4."

Microsoft's program featured pep talks by Web producer Felicia Day, NBC news correspondent Kate Snow, U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Dominique Dawes, and Fox Sports NFL analyst Mike Pereira. All championed online media as a complement to TV programming.

Another speaker, Lloyd Braun, founder of media company BermanBraun, said TV networks and pundits must reduce their obsession with live ratings. Audience-viewing habits, he said, have changed because of time-shifting and adoption of new devices like tablets. "We're watching these shows in completely different places at different times," he said during the program. And as a result, media business models haven't kept pace with audience habits.

Microsoft also announced that it will feature content on the Xbox from new partners such as ESPN, CBS Interactive, and Last.fm. It already offers content from Netflix and Hulu for Xbox Live gold members, as well as other media partners.

One attendee, Laura Deitch, interactive director of digital at direct marketing agency ConvergeDirect, said she was impressed by Microsoft Advertising's offerings. "Its ability to strategically target consumers with content over multiple devices was eye opening," she said in an email interview after the event.

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Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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