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Microsoft: We're On Track To Become Ad Giant

When Microsoft execs gather with advertisers and publishers at the software giant's annual advertising summit this week, they will be asked to explain how the company plans to move forward without Yahoo. Even if Microsoft goes on to acquire a piece of Yahoo, as the rumor goes, it will still have to explain what senior management meant when they said the company's near-term growth strategy is to grow organically, rather than to acquire any third parties.

As Brian McAndrews, senior VP of Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group, tells Ad Age, "Yahoo was not a strategy. Yahoo fit into our overall strategy of building the overall platform." That platform consists of both advertiser optimization and publisher monetization tools as well as ad networks and exchanges that aggregate audiences for advertisers and sell unsold inventory for publishers. McAndrews said the message to the platform's many clients will be about progress.

As for Yahoo, McAndrews said that Yahoo would bolster some areas of the platform, particularly search, but it wouldn't bring Microsoft anything it doesn't already have. The software giant has extremely lofty goals for its platform: last fall, CEO Steve Ballmer announced that advertising would account for as much 25% of Microsoft's business; right now it's about 6% or 7%.

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