24/7 Scores Microsoft Business
The announcement comes less than 10 days after 24/7 won duties for Lycos' U.S. ad serving, media sales, and analytics business. Unlike the Lycos deal, Microsoft didn't buy the total 24/7 ad serving solution, as Microsoft will also directly run ads through the same system. 24/7 is the only third-party ad server that Microsoft will be working with, however. Ads will be sold individually by channel or on a broad scale. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"We chose 24/7 because it offers an end-to-end solution for sales, management, and reporting of streaming ads, offering us easy administration of our ad partner program," says Gabe Knapp, Product Manager for the Windows Digital Media Division.
24/7's Microsoft business will also be incorporated into the 24/7 Web Alliance. Last week, comScore Media Metrix said the acquisition of Lycos as a client made the Web Alliance the fourth largest online media entity, with 66 million monthly unique users. The Windows Media Ad Partner Program addition will further elevate the 24/7 Web Alliance's standing, adding 90 million banner impressions per month and 20-30 million streaming video ad impressions per month.
"[Microsoft] was looking to expand its rich media services as far as possible," says David Hills, president, media solutions, 24/7 Real Media. Hills adds that 24/7 will be using Microsoft's technology, which opens up greater possibilities for it in terms of the types of formats it can serve. The Windows Media Ad Partner Program supports banners and Leaderboards, and streaming banner and video ads that use Microsoft's Windows Media 9 technology.
Just what does this mean for advertisers? "A couple of things," notes Hills. "We'll obviously be attracting more advertiser attention with Microsoft as a client, but each company will also get lots of rich media exposure as a result."
"This deal means additional ad revenue for Windows Media Ad Program partners while enabling advertisers ((24/7 customers) to reach whole new audiences with their advertising and utilize a wide variety of ad types," adds Knapp. "The key here is that we're moving beyond traditional banner and button ads to offer innovative ad types, including streaming banner and streaming video ads that use Windows Media 9."
Hills is unsure whether or not Microsoft will allow 24/7 to use Windows Media 9 technology in its ad serving endeavors with other publishers as well. "It's ours to represent as we and they decide," says Hills. "First and foremost, our priority will be to sell their inventory." Cross-utilization of the technology is something Hills says 24/7 will have to discuss with Microsoft before going ahead.
Hills cites 24/7's commitment to online publishers as one of the reasons he thinks companies like Lycos and Microsoft have agreed to sign on. "Awareness for our company is growing steadily," he says. "That we are an advocate for the publisher has become very clear, I think. It's encouraging," he adds, "because by focusing on the publisher we're actually able to bring greater value to the advertiser."
Publishers are starting to understand the value of selling premium technology ad formats, and Hills says this is further proof that 24/7 is on track.