Microsoft to roll out creative sequencing via MSN

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 6 February 2015

Microsoft reckons it has a bigger data targeting capability than Google. To make use of it, it's plotting the Australian roll out its Creative Sequencing ad tool, which was launched in the US last year.

It's designed to help advertisers run ads across devices in sequence and avoid serving people the same ads they've already seen on mobile, on desktop or tablet or serving ads at an irrelevant moment. Advertisers can use Microsoft's cross device tracking data to serve ads in a narrative, or logical order.

The technology giant will be launching creative sequencing in Australia in quarter two of this year, with the relaunched website touting the scale and authenticity of its data to advertisers.

Microsoft is bullish about the scale and authenticity of its audience data pools and the site's growth since launch in October.

Tony Wilkinson, Microsoft's director of advertising and online division told AdNews: “The only other online organisation that has similar scale is obviously Facebook, even Google doesn't have that level of authenticated use.”

“The good thing about authenticated use is it allows you to identify somebody across multiple devices. From an advertisers perspective, if I’ve got MSN and I’m using it across my computer, I’m using it as an app my phone, I've got it on my xbox, MSN knows who it is across all of those devices because you're logged in with a Microsoft account, and because of that we can deliver the user a consistent experience across all of those devices.”

MSN broke away from its former joint venture partner Ninemsn last October and since then has gained a monthly audience of 2.9 million. Roughly 10% higher than when the sites were merged.

Wilkinson said Microsoft is pleased with how the site has progressed since launch and is confident that the growth will continue not only online, but also on mobile.

“We think 2.9 million is a great start for a new site,” Wilkinson said. “That puts us in a similar size to some of the established competitors like The Sydney Morning Herald and quite a bit larger than some of the newer players like The Daily Mail. We're very happy with how we've been going and we're quite optimistic with how we're going to grow the audience to mobile users in particular.”

Despite the split between the Ninemsn and MSN sites the ad inventory is often bought and sold together and Wilkinson told AdNews that this wouldn't be changing any time soon.

“Ninemsn and MSN for an advertiser are part of one platform, for the user they are very different,” he said.

“Ninemsn is all about content that comes from Channel Nine and MSN is about getting the best information from around the world from premium publishers. So the consumer propositions are quite different and that's why we think over time we can get a greater audience and grow it. From an advertiser perceptive both of those systems use the same back end systems and this is one of the advantages we can provide to an advertiser.”

On the selling front, Wilkinson commented: “We have an agreement that's a multi-year agreement with Nine to sell our inventory that works very well for us, so we're committed to that arrangement and we don't have any plans to do anything differently.”

When it comes to online usage, Wilkinson explained that portals such as MSN are second only to social sites according to commscore and when updating the MSN site the team re-imagined what a portal would look like if designed today rather than 20 ago.

“What would you do if you were inventing a portal today what would you do and you would create it so it could be used on every single device,” he said.

“If you customise MSN on a PC because you want to have sport up the top of the page that customisation will flow through to the different environments that you look at MSN on, we've really tried to design an environment that will be consist regardless of what device you look at it on.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the latest print edition of AdNews (February 6). Get your copy on iPad now, or in Print here.

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