An expanded partnership between Microsoft and Publicis Groupe is another sign of the ongoing battle for brand advertiser dollars among big online ad players including the Redmond firm. Publicis, which holds the purse strings of large online media ad buyers such as Starcom MediaVest Group and Digitas, announced yesterday it plans to work with Microsoft on projects including online ad performance and a TV ad exchange.
The TV ad plans could be perceived as a direct attack on Google, which is pushing for its own television ad buying platform to gain momentum. Publicis digital unit VivaKi will develop a TV ad exchange employing Microsoft-owned Admira technology, set to launch in Q4 of this year. The technology takes a cue from online ad targeting, combining aggregate audience information with other audience characteristics to optimize ad targeting and provide measurement reports to advertisers.
According to a Publicis company statement, the agency’s subsidiaries, Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Zenith Optimedia will be among the initial agencies to use the Admira technology at launch.
Microsoft has already agreed publicly to participate along with other media partners like AOL, CBS Interactive, and Tremor Media in a much-touted VivaKi project deemed “The Pool.” The initiative, aimed at testing digital ad formats, is currently focused on determining the best video ad formats. Media partners involved with the project are required to provide investment, sometimes in the form of a revenue share with the agency. Payment requirements are in place to ensure active participation and to cover the cost of research, according to a company spokesperson who spoke with ClickZ News last week.
Google is also a Publicis partner. In January 2008, the companies said they would have dedicated staff on-site at one another’s offices for “for a few months or a year,” the goal being to exchange knowledge regarding technology and media planning. At the time, the agreement looked like a positive step for Google, which like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others, is always fighting to score more ad dollars from big brand advertisers that work with agency networks like Publicis.
Publicis yesterday also said Microsoft would “support” a content studio associated with its Publicis-owned PBJS marketing and event production company to create programming in which Publicis clients could eventually advertise. Microsoft’s support of the effort is not surprising. PBJS was co-founded by Microsoft executives, and, as of last year, held a long-term contract with Microsoft to produce events.
In related news, Microsoft earlier this week announced it has been working with Mediabrands to design a system for cross-media planning, buying, and optimization.