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Microsoft on the War Path

The New York Times today covers Microsoft and their pending battle against Google/DoubleClick. No, not the legal mess they’ve been pursuing—the fight for advertising dollars. With aQuantive‘s and DoubleClick‘s acquisitions earlier this year, Microsoft and Google are now in direct competition in the online advertising arena.

The Times article leads with three of Microsoft’s past endeavors which have enjoyed “varying degrees of success”: Internet Explorer, Windows and the Zune. Internet Explorer sucks (just ask the 100+ people who’ve commented on that post!), Windows is okay (I don’t mind it, at least, but I haven’t “upgraded” to Vista yet), and the Zune thus far has been too little, too late. Not a precipitous way to begin discussing a new business.

If Twitter and Yahoo Answers Mated You’d Get Attendi

SEM is so powerful, so successful, that there’s a relentless quest to find the “next search.” Attendi, a startup that launched today at the Demo conference, applies search to instant messaging conversations.

To join Attendi, you create a profile that can include blogs, keywords, favorite web sites and your social networks; the idea is to position yourself as an expert on whatever you want — cooking, motorcycles, SEM. Automatically generated tag clouds attached to profiles show what else you’re up to speed on.

Other people can come to the site and search for experts who are logged in, then request a chat. Your profile is rated as more relevant to a topic, the more people chat with you. In addition, Attendi indexes all the chats and makes them searchable. So, even if someone isn’t online, you can read what they said to someone else.

First Look: Go, Go, Google Gadget Ads!

image Google has just announced the limited launch of Google Gadget Ads, a new interactive ad format that will run on their content network. Unlike Google AdWords’ existing array of text, video and graphical ads, Google Gadget Ads are designed to be interactive, can be built using HTML or Flash, and support both cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM) pricing models (more specs here).

Here’s the rundown on Google Gadget Ads:

  • The ads are interactive
  • Google Gadget Ads can incorporate real-time data feeds
  • Different targeting options – contextual, site, geographic, and demographic
  • Built on an open platform – open to anyone
  • They can be placed on any web page, including iGoogle
  • Detailed interaction reports – track dozens of actions within each ad unit

AOL’s New Ad Network Division

MySpace isn’t the only one experimenting with a new ad network. AOL, the long-beleaguered red-headed-step-child of the TimeWarner family, has announced a new advertising network—sort of. After a long gathering of online advertising companies, they’ve finally created a full-fledged advertising division. Or, perhaps they’ve just revamped all of their old ones and cobbled them into a new, single unit with a new headquarters.

To date, these acquisitions include:

  • July 2007, TACODA, behavioral targeting ad network
  • May 2007, ADTECH AG, ad-serving and e-mail marketing network
  • May 2007, Third Screen Media, mobile ad serving
  • May 2006, LightningCast, streaming video/audio ad serving
  • 2004,, direct-response network

All of these acquisitions came under the branch of AOL. The new advertising unit, MediaPost reports, will be called Platform A and will reach 90% of Internet users. The former CEO of TACODA, Curt Viebranz, will head the division.

MySpace Starts Contextual, Targeted Advertising

paidContent reports that MySpace will launch contextual, targeted advertising on its members’ profiles starting soon. After six months of testing with a 100-member team in MySpace’s parent corporation, their system will analyze the content of members’ profile pages and display relevant ads alongside the content.

paidContent reports:

The program is currently in a pilot phase with 10 “enthusiast” segments with some select advertisers, and will be available broadly this fall other segments. Also, in November, MySpace will launch a self-serve online ad system to allow smaller companies to aim at MySpace users with their ads.

They expect the advertising to jump 80% in click-through rate, while doubling their monthly revenues (to $80m).

They did not explain why they did not choose an extant contextual advertising platform, but it’s likely that they’d profit more from a home-grown solution.

Yes, Brands are Conversations

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve disagreed with CNET’s Elinor Mills–something that rarely happens, as she’s a fantastic journalist–but here goes. :-)

Mills attended FM Publishing’s Conversational Marketing Summit and is somewhat skeptical that marketing and conversations can mix together.

Hold on. Who asked marketers to join readers online? I know blog publishers need to make money, and they do earn revenue off regular old text, video and banner ads. But I’m suspicious when the “conversation” is initiated by the marketer and not the consumer.

And what’s this with the slogan of the conference–“Brands are conversations”? No, they aren’t.

Google Expanding its Frontiers: Click Fraud

Google premiered a number of new sites today, including several ventures in China and a new click fraud resource center.

The new Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center is designed to help AdWords advertisers report and avoid bad clicks—but more importantly, it’s for Google to communicate about click fraud with advertisers and reassure them.

venn diagram of click fraud from GoogleGoogle illustrates click fraud for their advertisers, stating that they automatically compensate for virtually all click fraud by using a click fraud rate that they know is too high. By creating “false positives” in click fraud, Google ensures that their advertisers aren’t overcharged. Google refers to this as “proactively detecting” click fraud, and states that on average 10% of all clicks are invalid clicks which fall into this category: