Microsoft Adds Frequency Caps for Verizon Mobile Ads

Eight months after they partnered on mobile search and display ads, Microsoft yesterday unveiled a frequency capping option for Verizon’s wireless ad network. Marketers will be able to better control click fees by dictating how many times their ads are seen in a day, week or month on the network, according to Jaime Wells, director of global trade marketing for Microsoft’s mobile advertising department in Seattle.

In an e-mail exchange on Thursday, Wells described a potential campaign goal when utilizing frequency capping: “An example would be restricting the exposure to an advertiser’s ad to just once a day. For example, displaying a Pizza Hut ad one time to each user during the 5 p.m. hour before dinner.”

As was the case in recent Microsoft/Verizon packages, Wells stated, marketers can choose between cost-per-click or cost-per-action agreements when negotiating deals that involve the frequency capping option. He added that the Verizon ad network, which includes mobile sites for brands like The New York Times, NBC Universal and CityGuide, will provide advertisers with third-party impression tracking, while keeping them in strict adherence with consumer privacy concerns.

“Advertisers can utilize frequency capping to minimize creative burn-out, or fine-tune more sophisticated media metrics such as ‘Exposure to Conversion,’ which is a metric that quantifies how many times a user views an ad before taking an action like clicking or taking a post-click action,” Wells wrote. “Customers are trying out the functionality now. We will provide input and results when they are available.”

Tom Limongello, senior director of business development at Crisp Wireless, New York, characterized the announcement as “not technologically ground-breaking,” noting that other platforms have already been offering frequency capping. Still, he welcomed the development for the young-but-growing mobile niche.

“Any time Verizon makes it easier for advertisers to use their network, it’s a good thing,” Limongello said. “It’s a net positive for the industry.”

Last January, Microsoft and Verizon struck a five-year deal where the former received rights to distribute Live Search results and advertising to Verizon Wireless customers. Microsoft, which already had a mobile deal with Sprint, surprised many industry players by landing the partnership because competitor Google was largely considered the front-runner to align with Verizon.

If nothing else, yesterday’s frequency capping announcement suggests that the Microsoft-Verizon mobile tandem is becoming more fully realized.

Correction: An earlier version of the story said Microsoft is “newly permitted” to sell some premium inventory on Verizon’s wireless deck. In fact it had been allowed to sell premium ads from the beginning of the relationship.

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