Microsoft officially retired AdECN and switched to the AppNexus platform for real-time bidding. This readies the move to take RTB in the display Advertising Exchange internationally.
There has not been a major shift by advertisers to RTB, but Dennis Buchheim, general manager of scale display for Microsoft, hopes that will change as more people realize the benefits. For advertisers, that means more selective buying and the ability to target specific audiences. For Microsoft it means "significant yield" increases as Windows Live inventory rolls out through the exchange.
Improving yield includes managing price, inventory allocation and packaging, as well as reserves to bring in more advertisers and exchanges. The exchange sees trading between 8 billion and 10 billion impressions monthly.
Microsoft did not need to make investments to add data centers to support RTB, so capital expenditures remain low. AppNexus will support the influx of data.
Buchheim said Microsoft will limit access to premium owned-and-operated media on Windows Live properties in the U.S., such as Hotmail and Messenger services, as well as remnant inventory on the MSN Network channels in the U.S. The exchange will roll out across Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands during the coming months, followed by other international markets later this year.
Buchheim hopes the focus on international expansion and yield will differentiate the platform from Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Yahoo's Right Media.
When asked whether the platform can connect with paid-search campaigns, Buchheim said Microsoft and Google are looking at ways to bring display and search more closely together. "We have search and display buying through Atlas tools, but today it's pretty distinct," he said. "What you have seen with contextual advertising likely is the first bridge that allows advertisers to buy keywords or other targeting mechanisms for text or display."
Microsoft offers Content Ads on its adCenter platform, which begins to create the link between search and display. Atlas also enables search and display buying within one tool, but it's pretty early days, Buchheim said.