MSN Brings Together Advertising and Marketing Leaders at Sixth Annual MSN Strategic Account Summit

    REDMOND, Wash., March 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Tomorrow Steve Ballmer,
 chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:   MSFT), will deliver the
 keynote address at the sixth annual MSN(R) Strategic Account Summit, a leading
 industry forum held on Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, where many of the
 industry's most innovative thought leaders will meet to discuss what will
 shape the advertising industry today and in the future.
     Based on feedback from marketers and customers, MSN developed a two-day
 agenda within the theme of "Mastering the Medium," armed to help the more than
 500 attendees identify opportunities to most effectively reach their
 audiences. Attendees also will gain insights into MSN's vision and strategy
 and will have the opportunity to hear and interact with industry-leading
 speakers in categories such as branding, direct-response campaigns and
 privacy. Examples of innovative work, best results, trends and accomplishments
 that reach beyond the boundaries of today's advertising will be highlighted at
 the summit to encourage the industry to continue to move forward on the road
 to mastery.
 
     Speakers and panelists at the sixth annual summit include the following:
 
     -- Barry Diller, chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp.
     -- Mark Burnett, creator and executive producer of reality television
        programs such as "Survivor" and "The Apprentice"
     -- Dr. Eric Schmidt, CEO and chairman of the executive committee of Google
        Inc.
     -- Ted Meisel, president of Yahoo! Search Marketing and senior vice
        president of Yahoo! Inc.
     -- Ann Fudge, chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands
 
     "Microsoft's Strategic Account Summit is one of the most important
 industry events of the year for advertisers, publishers and creative
 agencies," Ballmer said. "We are proud to host many of the top thought leaders
 from the advertising and media community, and join them in addressing how to
 interact and communicate with consumers in new and meaningful ways online."
 
     MSN to Preview Prototype Advertising Platform
     At the summit MSN also will unveil Microsoft's next-generation online
 advertising platform, MSN adCenter, built on Microsoft(R) technology that will
 help advertisers get higher returns by understanding and connecting to their
 desired audience throughout the MSN network. Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice
 president of the MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform division, will
 demonstrate the first component of MSN adCenter, a new prototype of an MSN
 paid-search solution for which a pilot program will begin within the next six
 months in Singapore and France to gather customer feedback.
     Within the MSN adCenter platform, the new MSN paid-search solution will be
 tightly integrated with other future capabilities to give advertisers a one-
 stop shop from which to plan, execute and adjust their online campaigns. The
 new MSN paid-search solution will provide keyword buyers with in-depth
 audience intelligence including geographic location, gender, age group,
 lifestyle segment and time of day. As a result, advertisers should be able to
 plan more strategic advertising investments and achieve higher click-to-buy
 conversion rates among consumers. MSN remains committed to working with Yahoo!
 Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and will continue to collaborate with it
 to offer high-quality search listings to advertisers.
 
     MSN Creates Branded Entertainment and Experiences Team
     During his presentation at the summit, Blake Irving, corporate vice
 president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform Group at
 Microsoft, will announce the evolution of the MSN Custom Solutions Team to
 take on an expanded charter in the United States as the new MSN Branded
 Entertainment and Experiences Team.
     "At MSN we were among the first to realize the potential of branded
 experiences online when we formed our Custom Solutions Team three years ago,"
 said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer for MSN.
 "Now with the explosion of consumer and marketer interest in branded
 entertainment, we believe it's the right time to expand our charter."
     The new MSN Branded Entertainment and Experiences Team will be a resource
 for brand marketers to reach the massive MSN consumer audience in new ways
 online via experiential marketing and entertainment that taps into consumer
 passions for sports, music, movies, video, instant messaging and more online
 experiences on MSN.
     Irving will cite evidence in the industry confirming that innovative,
 software-powered branded entertainment experiences on MSN were extremely
 effective for advertisers on the network. According to Dynamic Logic Inc.*,
 compared with more than 1,700 advertising campaigns that ran on sites across
 the Internet, previous custom solutions developed by the same team greatly
 outperformed every metric Dynamic Logic measures. These experiences performed
 57 percent better than average at driving online ad awareness, 25 percent
 better at increasing aided brand awareness, and 53 percent better at
 increasing brand favorability. Purchase intent, arguably the hardest metric to
 lift, increased 75 percent for branded entertainment experiences.
     The team has a strong history of working with leading brands, and in the
 past three years has worked with more than 40 of the top consumer brands that
 have run engaging and creative branded entertainment experiences on MSN. Many
 key partners are incorporating MSN products and services such as MSN Video,
 MSN Messenger and MSN Music into their experiences to provide entertainment
 and interaction to online destinations, which has proven to be quite
 successful.
     "MSN's ability to create customized and innovative programs has allowed us
 to deliver highly impactful programs that increase consumer involvement with
 the brands we serve," said Sarah Fay, president of Isobar US (Carat
 Interactive, Freestyle, iProspect). "This group consistently forges new
 territory for our clients and the industry. We consider MSN a gold standard
 partner in the category of branded entertainment."
     A replay of Ballmer's keynote speech as well as Mehdi's demonstration from
 the MSN Strategic Account Summit will be available at
 http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/msn/default.asp by 11 a.m.
 Wednesday, March 16.
 
     About MSN
     MSN attracts more than 380 million unique users worldwide per month. With
 localized versions available globally in 40 markets and 20 languages, MSN is a
 world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and online advertising
 opportunities to businesses worldwide. The most useful and innovative online
 service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make
 the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at
 http://www.msn.com . MSN worldwide sites are located at
 http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx .
 
     About Microsoft
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services
 and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
 
     * Dynamic Logic MarketNorms for 1,705 campaigns through Dec. 31, 2004,
       versus 18 MSN branded entertainment experiences, comparing brand impact
       deltas (control - exposed scores)
 
     NOTE:  Microsoft and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of
 Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
     The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the
 trademarks of their respective owners.
 
 

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.
RELATED LINKS
http://www.microsoft.com

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