Given the importance of instant messaging to portal loyalty, and the significance of presence (and instant communication) to the whole next-generation Web, it’s super interesting to see Microsoft and Yahoo! team to hitch their IM platforms together.
I was curious, however, about the direct advertising implications. Would the advertising sold into IM platforms be affected by the new relationship? Users of both Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger can currently trick out their clients with a variety of advertiser-paid-for themes. When they converse with other users on that same platform, the chat-partner sees those themes, and gets exposed to the “viral” branding. (Current Yahoo!-featured “IMVironments” include ones for Huggies, Pop-Tarts, and Baseball, sponsored by GMC. MSN calls its offering “theme packs.”)
Will these themes go cross-platform, too, greatly expanding the reach of the campaigns but also creating lots of thorny issues? In a word, no. “…In this agreement there isn’t any advertising collaboration between the networks,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me. Well, now we know.