Today Microsoft announced an alliance with OpenX, the vendor of an open source Web ad server and proprietor of a Web advertising market for smaller publishers. The objective is for
… the companies to cross-market and promote products to their respective publisher bases. Under terms of the multiyear agreement, OpenX becomes a preferred partner to publishers for enterprise ad serving solutions. In addition, OpenX will promote Microsoft’s Content Ads monetization products — as well as other products that may be developed in the future — to its existing base of Web publisher customers.
OpenX and Microsoft will each enjoy significant benefits from the partnership. Most notably, Microsoft will have a major distribution channel for its monetization products through OpenX’s community of more than 150,000 Web sites that serve more than 300 billion ads per month. OpenX will, in turn, gain access to a new base of potential customers — via referrals from Microsoft — for its enterprise advertising technology and services.
The Content Ads component of the agreement follows a successful trial Microsoft and OpenX began in August 2008, during which OpenX provided invitations to its publishers to test the product. Content Ads matches ads to relevant editorial content, allowing advertisers to increase campaign effectiveness, which can allow publishers to achieve a higher yield on certain types of inventory. As part of the agreement, OpenX will promote Content Ads in two ways. First, OpenX will integrate Content Ads so that it can be used by publishers who sign up for OpenX Market to better monetize their pages. The company will also build a plug-in to OpenX Ad Server so existing publisher customers can more easily sign up for Content Ads and implement it on their Web site(s). OpenX is the first reseller approved by Microsoft to build a plug-in for Content Ads.
Content Ads is Microsoft’s competitor for Google AdSense and this agreement is an easy way to add ad volume among third party publishers. It is a natural alliance, since big dog Google has their own free in-house competitor for (hosted) OpenX functionality in Google Ad Manager which naturally provides easy serving of Google’s own AdSense ads.
Bigger publishers would probably set their sights higher than either of the above solutions by using Microsoft’s aQuantive products or Google’s DoubleClick. Still the small publisher business is lucrative and not to be disdained – a view that Microsoft only slowly adopted.
Google’s DoubleClick unit (whose acquisition was the source of much Microsoft rancor) announced today that it has added Microsoft’s Silverlight 2 to the video technologies in which it can serve video ads with its In-Stream advertising platform. This is just in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics, which in the USA are Silverlight powered online.
Today, DoubleClick, a premier provider of digital marketing technology and services, announced the new capability to serve video ads into Microsoft Silverlight 2 video environments. The move is part of DoubleClick’s ongoing effort to help clients maximize the yield on their advertising inventory as they deliver content into emergent online, video and mobile channels.
With this new feature of DoubleClick In-Stream, DoubleClick clients such as NBC Universal Digital Media are able to monetize video content played within the Silverlight 2 player. NBCOlympics.com, a division of NBC Universal, will be one of the first sites to open Silverlight 2 content up to advertisers with DoubleClick In-Stream. The solution carves out new video inventory across 2,500 hours of video content running as part of NBC’s Olympics coverage.
There should be no surprise here. Even though Google and Microsoft aren’t the best of pals, it is a win for both parties for DoubleClick to add Silverlight 2 to its In-Stream video stable (which already includes Adobe Flash, RealMedia, and Windows Media) and for Microsoft to get DoubleClick support.
Microsoft is never shy about reaching for the wallet to buy technology and the associated developer talent to embellish their offerings and this week’s shopping cart holds Rapt Inc,, an advertising yield software developer, and Kidaro, a provider of desktop virtualization management software.
Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, Google’s acquisition of Doubleclick was completed today as the European Union gave its approval. The key graph from Eric Schmidt’s blog post:
Advertisers and publishers who work with us have long asked that we complement our search and content-based text advertising with display advertising capabilities. DoubleClick gives Google the leading platform for display advertising, enabling us to rapidly bring advances to the market in technology and infrastructure that will dramatically improve the effectiveness, measurability and performance of digital media for publishers, advertisers and agencies.
I still think that getting into the banner ad biz is a step backward, but it does make Google a one stop Web advertising shop.