Facing Stiff Competition, Microsoft Launches Mobile SDK

Microsoft Advertising on Thursday debuted its Mobile Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft Advertising Exchange for Mobile. Raj Kapoor, global director for product planning and marketing for Microsoft Mobile Advertising, calls the latter "the industry's first real-time, bidded ad exchange in mobile."

"The release of these innovative platforms is designed to enable display ad serving for Windows Phone 7 applications," Kapoor said in a blog post on Thursday.

In addition to the company's own sales force and adCenter ad marketplace, the exchange is partnering with several outside mobile ad nets, including Millennial Media, WHERE, InMobi and MobClix. Refined Attentive, according to Kapoor.

While the mobile ad space is presently dominated by Apple and Google, it is still in its infancy and ripe for the taking.

Last month, Microsoft reportedly committed over half a billion dollars to help launch its Windows Phone 7 platform this fall. The money is likely to be spread across marketing, developers, handset makers and carriers. Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, suggested that Microsoft will likely spend billions in the first year on marketing and development.

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In show of confidence, NBC tapped Microsoft Advertising in May to promote its "More Colorful" Fall 2010 program lineup. Executed through a multi-screen ad campaign, the partnership relied heavily on Microsoft Mobile.

For the deal, Microsoft Advertising deployed one of its largest and most comprehensive campaigns ever across 19 digital owned-and-operated properties, as well as syndicated partners -- to deliver a combined reach of nearly 470 million unique users monthly.

Specific capabilities of Microsoft's Mobile Advertising SDK include demographic, category, carrier and location targeting; text and image units; cick to call and click to Web ad actions, along with reporting on in-app ad revenue, ad inventory, clicks, CPM and sell thru rate.

As a standalone platform, Microsoft's Windows Mobile actually lost ground to rival platforms -- dropping to 11.8% in the three-month period ending July from 14% the prior quarter -- according to new comScore findings.

In the ad exchange arena, Microsoft faces stiff competition from Google's Doubleclick and Yahoo's Right Media. The software giant acquired AdECN about three years ago, but has since made limited headway in the market. Earlier this year, Microsoft opened up AdECN to a handful of ad buyers, but only allowed them to purchase a limited amount of inventory.

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