Just An Online Minute... Come Together
That would be Yahoo! and MSN promoting the power of online marketing as Microsoft kicks off its annual MSN Customer Summit on Thursday. This year's event is a huge affair, where I'm told at least a couple hundred marketers and agency executives and more than 20 journalists will gather to hear MSN's vision for interactive media and marketing.
While Yahoo! and America Online execs showed up at last year's event, this year's meeting has a higher profile. For starters, Bill (Gates) is speaking. Steve Ballmer, Bill's right hand and Microsoft's CEO and President, is slated to offer the meeting's opening volley Thursday morning. What's more, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel turns up on Friday morning, for an industry panel discussion with Yusuf Mehdi, corporate-vice president, MSN Personal Services & Business Division, and Greg Stuart, president-CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Jetting in straight from his CNBC talk-show set, Donny Deutsch, CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, is expected to stoke the creative fires, though what everyone really wants to know is what The Donald is like. The legendary Lester Wunderman is also set to make an appearance.
Drawing heavyweight marketers across categories, the MSN Customer Summit is expected to hit a couple of key topics facing online advertising--streaming video advertising, the role of search, and cultivating emotionally engaging and ground-breaking online creative. There is also a movement afoot to spur traditional agencies to incent creatives typically drawn to the allure of shooting TV commercials on an exotic island or Hollywood set to make commercials for the Web. MSN will release the results of a multi-brand research study on Thursday.
The festivities kick off tonight in Seattle at a party for attendees. But between the cocktails and crudités, and once Yahoo! is off the MSN stage, it'll be back to business as usual as both run after the same customers--traditional marketers that they hope will shift more dollars into online media.