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Microsoft Intros Search Ads with Demographic Filtering
16 Mar 2005
After having introduced a series of also-ran technologies in the search engine market, Microsoft this morning said it planned to release a technology that neither Google nor Yahoo can yet offer: the ability for advertisers to filter the people exposed to their search ads by demographic information. Marketers will be able to target one ad to men, another to women, and use additional information such as age and location. Microsoft has been tracking this information for years through its various sites, including MSN, Hotmail and others, keeping a vast database on tens of millions of individuals, each assigned a user ID Microsofties refer to as a GUID, or global user ID. Past internal Microsoft plans to use the GUID have been shelved due to fears privacy advocates would set about characterizing the technology as a dangerous and invasive use of personal information.
Microsoft said it plans to offer advertisers break-outs of which types of audience members clicked on ads, versus merely saw them, allowing marketers to further refine creative and media choices. In the future, the company may be able to offer media on its non-search sites linked through the GUID to past search behavior, providing a form of simplistic behavioral targeting.
The initial demographic selection technology will roll out with Microsoft's much-heralded adCenter paid search advertising auction system to be initially tested in the next six months in just the tiny markets of France and Singapore. Microsoft's deal with Yahoo for its general search site is set to end a year after that time.