With much fanfare and publicity, earlier this month Microsoft Corp. launched HealthVault, a software and services platform aimed at helping people better manage their personal health information. As part of this venture, they simultaneously launched HealthVault Search, a specialized health search engine that intuitively organizes the most relevant online health content, allowing people to refine searches faster and with more accuracy.
While HealthVault in its entirety is a very exciting project and I think it will be great for all involved, I'm particularly excited about one aspect of it that I think the entire performance-based marketing industry should be applauding. It is an ad unit within HealthVault Search called an "Action Module," and it is the Cadillac of online lead generation. (On its own merits, I am confident you will agree, but for disclosure's sake, my company is the media rep firm for this ad unit).
I think advertisers will love the Action Module and online publishers will do their best to emulate it in other online lead generation arenas. It's kind of like a widget, but better, in my opinion. The Action Module that Microsoft has incorporated into HealthVault defines industry best practice in online performance-based advertising and lead generation for the following reasons:
· Highly relevant placement - a particular advertiser's Action Module will only appear when a relevant term is searched on HealthVault.
· No false pretenses - consumers submit information to advertisers based only on a straightforward call to action and not some sort of bait-and-switch click path or as part of some road block.
· Protection of PII - Microsoft has gone to great lengths throughout HealthVault (and specifically with the Action Module) to safeguard personally identifiable information and has made advertisers' privacy policies very conspicuous in the Module.
· Favorable economics - the media is priced on a cost-per-action basis that provides ultimate ROI to advertisers and leads the publisher to gravitate to the most relevant and highest converting advertisers.
· Engaging to consumers - Action Modules are designed to deliver an engaging user experience by delivering a "mini web application" that can include lead capture, order capture or data/survey collection. They are also designed to be collaborative between the publisher (Microsoft) and the advertiser.
Kudos to Microsoft for thinking out of the box and for bringing a solution to lead generating advertisers that addresses virtually all of the issues that have made online lead generation a magnet for controversy in the past.
Now the question will be scale. Can Microsoft scale the Action Module model for the benefit of all parties involved: itself, consumers and advertisers? I think they can. FREE is the key. Their idea of creating a FREE place to (i) store and monitor health information and records, and (ii) access a vertical search engine and content specific to healthcare, is likely to enable them to scale the Action Module. Consumers will likely flock to the valuable yet free content and functionality and advertisers will love the leads, enabling the media model to flourish.
Take note, publishers....