The chief marketing officers of Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Ford, Verizon, Coca Cola, Unilever, General Electric, American Express, Kraft and 30 other companies signed a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, complaining about the "do not track" (DNT) function planned for Internet Explorer 10.
IE10 will launch with a default DNT position, preventing consumers from being targeted by advertisers. The letter was timed to rain on Microsoft’s parade at Advertising Week, at which it launched new native ad products for Windows 8 and a redesigned MSN.
It is rare for advertisers to publicly criticize the media sellers they deal with. It’s rarer still for them to time their criticism to inflict maximum PR damage. And it’s rarest of all for them to band together — even with competitors — and sign a statement against a marketing partner that takes billions of their dollars.
The letter is thus the most humiliating form of public dressing-down Microsoft could have received from its clients.
I really hate to break it to the Web advertising bigwigs, but Microsoft is on the side of the angels on this one. The only thing more annoying than ads following me from site to site are the constant requests that I "like" some company or product on Facebook. Those that feel lonely without be tracked by ravenous Web marketers can always opt-in, just like with email advertising or Facebook. Very few consumers will do that, of course, which is why the big Web advertisers are having the vapors. Don’t worry guys, you can always besiege us with admonitions to "please let us track you" just like you do with Facebook.
(First version lightly edited.)
Linda Buquet at the 5 Star Affiliate Programs Blog notices a part of the Microsoft Financial Analyst Day presentations which reveals that the MSN browser toolbar about to be installed on all Hewlett-Packard consumer PCs will try to entice Google searchers over to Microsoft’s own Live Search cashback deals. From Satya Nadella’s portion of Steve Ballmer’s presentation:
So the last thing I wanted to show you is one of the challenges, of course, we have, given our share position, is how do we really get more people to know about Live Search and get the taste for some of the value, like, in particular, the cashback value? So the place where we are innovating is in the toolbar. We have recently done a distribution deal for our toolbar with Hewlett-Packard. So this is the toolbar that Hewlett-Packard will carry with some customizations of their own. It’s the MSN toolbar.
And so let’s say I’m on Google and I type in Xbox. I can go ahead and search for Xbox, and automatically the toolbar detects that you’re searching for Xbox on Google and a Gleam view that there is a cashback on Live Search. And so I can go ahead and at this point click on that Gleam and it’ll take you to Live Search, or it’s supposed to take you to Live Search. Oh, it is on Live Search. See, I didn’t even notice the transfer. So it’s so seamless that now you’re on Live Search. You can get the cashback for a particular Xbox that you want to buy. So that’s just an experiment on how we get the word out, get more users trying Live Search, and getting the value of things like Live Search cashback.
Buquet’s beef is that affiliate marketers who are advertising on Google and always trying to get their sites to rank higher in the search results are going to be cut out of their commissions if searchers buy via Live Search cashback. My concern is that this seems like the most annoying sort of crapware bloat with privacy concerns to boot.
Admittedly, a “gleam” (which is a lit up marker on the toolbar) is probably the least offensive way to do this (compared to pop-ups, say), but it is yet one more piece of dancing baloney that slows down the browser. As for Microsoft getting a complete copy of your Google searching history (and what else?), that ought to be grist for the privacy advocates’ mills. Yet another thing to uninstall if you buy an HP machine, I guess, and to be wary of installing otherwise.
Microsoft today announced the acquisition of Israeli ad targeting firm, YaData. The company makes and sells analytic software to help Internet marketers segment audiences in greater detail for better ad targeting.
Microsoft today announced an agreement to acquire YaData Ltd., a provider of advanced tools for the discovery of unique customer segments. YaData’s technology will enable Microsoft to provide its advertisers with richer targeting capabilities so they can connect with their audience in more efficient and engaging ways, at the same time providing its customers more relevant and focused ads. The YaData team will join Microsoft’s Israel R&D center in Herzliya and YaData’s solutions will be deployed through Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group.
The price tag is rumored at $20-30 million. I offer my usual observation that better ad targeting inherently means less user privacy which may some day come home to roost at the hands of government regulators.
Microsoft today announced an agreement with CNBC to be the financial network’s exclusive provider for banner and contextual ads for the fledgling CNBC.com (replacing Google’s would-be acquisition DoubleClick). You may recall that CNBC.com went its own way last year after having been hosted on MSN.