Microsoft, AOL Deal: Content Lessens The Load Of Ads

Advertising agency executives say Google's decision to eliminate paid-search advertisements from the right rail of search engine query result pages creates more pressure to create and optimize great images and content, and ties the two together with display, video and other media. Here's why.

Last year, AOL struck a deal with Microsoft, taking over display, mobile and video ad sales across their inventory in the U.S. and eight other markets. Microsoft also agreed to power AOL search. On Monday the Verizon subsidiary announced the next step of that relationship that would bring premium ad formats to Microsoft’s properties starting with MSN.



While this move offers new opportunities for advertisers wanting to connect with consumers on mobile devices through data-driven, interactive display formats, it also proves the need to dot the line from display to search to content. 

Although this may seem strange, think about it for a moment. Display ads rely heavily on content. The news highlights the importance of cross-channel campaigns. Yes, two separate search engines, but the premise behind cross-channel campaigns supports search advertising and cross-device targeting with content and display.

Several agency executives commenting on Google's decision to eliminate right-rail text-based search ads say that if organic content is unable to change as quickly as demand, there will be a stronger need for paid-search ads to accompany content -- even content in display ads, which in a dotted line connects display to content to search.

AOL says the expansion on MSN includes ad formats such as Halo, Devil, Billboard, Loft, and Devil Full-Page Flex. They are available on MSN sites in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Spain, and will be available in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Brazil in March. AOL’s linear video premium formats will also be available in these markets later in the first quarter of 2016.

Just food for thought and a precursor to some of the sessions at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit May 4 through 7 in Key West.

2 comments about "Microsoft, AOL Deal: Content Lessens The Load Of Ads".
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  1. Kevin Lee from Didit, February 22, 2016 at 3:42 p.m.

    There are several critical strategic implications of this for marketers.  The most key implications are (based on my cursory analysis):

    1) Position becomes more important than ever.  We expect this to drive significant CPC inflation as it becomes an all-or-nothing ecosystem.  Get out your checkbooks and re-check budgets.

    2) PLAs (which may remain in the right rail in some SERPS) become more critical than ever to retailers.

    3) Real Time or near-real-time Bid Management is more important for ever for power keywords.  It’s a good thing that’s how Maestro works. ;-) 

    4) Quality score is more important than ever, so ads and landing pages for any of the top 10% of keywords should be reviewed.

    5) CRO (conversion rate optimization) becomes more important because any bid management system need to have the leverage to get aggressive if need be on bids.

    6) Segmentation of campaigns by geography may make more sense due to both order/customer value and conversion rate difference. 

    7) Re-evaluation of the “mobile opportunity” as the desktop inventory shrinks, and a focus on understanding which mobile micro-conversion behaviors should be tracked (click to call, calls, etc)

    8) Check to see of RLSA is a way to justify higher bids on critical keywords

    9) Double down on video and image SEO

    10) Marketers must be sure of their conversion metrics and KPIs.  Failure to accurately measure/quantify all marketing benefit from a keyword will result in under-bidding and campaign failure. Marketers must evaluate:

    a. Offline conversions that happen as result of SEM

    b. Email capture and social media activity driven by SEM

    c. Brand lift due to site engagement, particularly on early research or generic keywords

    d. Visitation to key micro-conversion pages on the site, (contact us, etc.)

    11) Interaction effects between other media and search need to be understood to facilitate aggressive bidding

    12) SEO, Social and all earned/owned media become even more important, as does effective display media.  All stimulate search behavior and raise quality scores if they are none effectively.



  2. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, February 22, 2016 at 4:08 p.m.

    I am irritated by pop-up ads that interfere with my reading of news, or opinion pieces, that  interest me,  However, if a note, which referred me to a related site, were inserted in the midst of an article I wouldn't be offended.  This is already quite common, so why not take that approach??  Neil Mahoney

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