Microsoft Launches Customer Care Initiative for Web Advertisers

MSN sales and marketing, Microsoft Corp.’s online advertising sales and support group for the MSN network, launched a new initiative to strengthen customer service for Web advertisers.

Customer care is a component of a larger MSN sales and marketing effort to provide quality service to online advertisers. Last week, Microsoft said it plans to quadruple the MSN sales force during the next 18 months.

“. . .customer service is a true differentiator in the ad-buying and customer-retention process,” said Charlotte Guyman, general manager, MSN sales and marketing. “Our customer care initiative is designed to elevate service levels and help MSN advertisers understand how best to use the medium and measure the success of their Web-based marketing campaigns.”

Microsoft said it will share research results with customers of MSN and discuss the results in broader terms with prospective online advertisers.

As part of that effort, the company said that its recent ad effectiveness research–conducted by E-valuations Research, with Burke Marketing Research and the Advertising Research Foundation serving as consultants–found that online advertising is effective as a branding medium and showed a positive correlation between online ad recall and brand awareness.

It also demonstrated that Web advertising can increase both brand perception and purchase consideration. For example, the research showed that an online ad campaign more than doubled unaided brand awareness for a holiday-season film release (24 percent vs. 11 percent). The research also showed intent to purchase more than doubled among ad recallers compared to nonrecallers (19 percent vs. 8 percent) after an online ad campaign by a men’s apparel maker. Eleven out of the 12 customer campaigns tested showed a positive directional increase in aided ad awareness.

“The top goal for MSN was to provide customers with information about online advertising’s effectiveness as a branding medium,” said Tom Buehrer, president of E-valuations Research. “E-valuations, working with ARF and Burke, created a methodology that could be useful across the entire online advertising industry.”

Other customer care components include: Media buyer and planner focus groups, ad agency interviews and a series of breakfast presentations of critical findings from primary Internet advertising research.

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