Blog Post

MSN Signs Video Deals; Search Efforts Still Sketchy; Gates Goes Full Time on Advertising

MSN kicked off its eighth annual Strategic Account Summit this week in Redmond, and some stories about its mixed efforts, both in online video and of course search/search advertising.
— Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates intends to spend his remaining full-time employment with the company primarily focused on developing online and advertising services. He will work with the company full-time until mid-2008. In his remaining months, he said that his efforts will be mainly directed toward “search, buyers and sellers. … That will be my biggest thing.”
— Joanne Bradford, CMO, MSN indicated that some changes are coming for Microsoft’s core online media business, MSN. We think that the portal needs to look pretty different going forward, she said.
— Microsoft has signed deals with Volvo and Chivas Brothers to support two new Web-only video series from Reveille, the production company behind TV shows “The Office” and “Ugly Betty.” The two new shows — “Driving School,” a comedy about a driving instructor who imparts life lessons to his students, and “This is the Life,” a travel and adventure show linked to a Chivas Regal advertising campaign — will arrive on Microsoft’s MSN Web site in the next six months.
— Then some negative stories about Microsoft’s search ad efforts: first one in Seattle Times: adCenter didn’t have the smoothest launch; adCenter’s top management has seen significant turnover. Departed executives include Blake Irving, who oversaw online-ad operations. But despite the negatives, advertisers seem to universally praise adCenter’s high return on investment.
— The second one in Mediaweek: The general sentiment among observers is that despite the excitement behind these (original video and adCenter) projects, momentum has stalled. Yet no one is saying that MSN has been slow when it comes to launching original content; if anything, some complain it has moved too fast…Though some buyers championed MSN