In today’s Wall Street Journal, Robert A. Guth provides a glowing profile of Joanne Bradford who was appointed as Microsoft’s Web ad czar in January and offers this teaser:
In the latest signal that Microsoft has gotten the online-ad religion, a company official said yesterday that Ms. Bradford, 43 years old, will soon be named to head its MSN online group, which runs a Web site delivering news, video and services such as email and instant messaging.
MSN has lacked an executive since David Cole took a leave of absence in February although technically he was replaced in April by former Ask.com CEO Steve Berkowitz who runs the Online Business Group created in March which includes MSN.
The thrust of Guth’s article is that Bradford has struggled to represent the old style of advertising sales (complete with glad handing salesman) in the techie world of Microsoft and that she might just be what MSN needs to get ad sales going. One hopes so since what Bradford has done so far as ad czar is mostly renaming Microsoft’s ad sales program and unsurprisingly, that hasn’t done much for the bottom line. Coincidentally, Henry Blodget just got through spanking Microsoft ad sales and observes:
It’s ancient history by now–and certainly not news–but it’s worth noting that Microsoft still hasn’t made any headway in the search-and-portal game and, in fact, is falling farther and farther behind.
How badly is MSN/Windows Live doing these days? In Q3, advertising revenue rose only 5%, once again the slowest rate of growth of the big four (even lagging Yahoo’s pathetic quarter). Display advertising on portals, email, etc., was up, but search revenue was down again, despite AdCenter having been rolled out to the entire U.S. market.
Having salesman wining and dining the automakers and other big advertisers is swell if you want big splashy banners for your somnolent portal business or you want to sell full page ads in Business Week (Bradford’s previous gig), but that’s unfortunately a couple generations of the Web out of date.
Update: What would a good old fashioned advertising story be without an Ad Age rendition? Some more details:
Chris Dobson will expand his international sales responsibilities to take over Ms. Bradford’s former post, running global sales, and Bill Shaughnessy will run the Microsoft Digital Ad Solution Business Group with responsibility for product management and planning for the adCenter and ad-serving projects.
It’ll be interesting to see if they can do any better.
Update: A primer for the Bradford philosophy – Microsoft to Google: WE love ad sales people.