Microsoft Yanks Ads After WebTV Users Complain
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Confusion and complaints over ads placed in the read-and-write area of e-mail pages on Microsoft's WebTV led the company to pull the banner ads the day after the new placement was deployed.
Such conflict highlights the need to be sensitive and clear with ad placement, even while Web companies seek to wring as much revenue as possible from site traffic.
Microsoft WebTV users on March 2 noticed that banner ads appeared in the portion of the screen where they composed their messages.
"From Microsoft's perspective, that was perfect, because that's where the eyeballs are," says Melissa Wilson, a Microsoft (MSFT) spokesperson.
"The key issue that customers were worried about was that the ads were being sent to their friends," Wilson said.
The ads weren't sent along with the e-mail, but were meant to be viewed by the subscriber as he composed an e-mail message. WebTV had placed ads on the e-mail screen before, but never in the box in which users compose their messages.
In future, Wilson said, Microsoft will inform customers via e-mail when new ads will appear, so they're not taken by surprise. The company is still deciding whether to return the ads to the e-mail read-and-write area. If they are returned, they'll be re-designed to look, "less threatening," according to Wilson. The company will also decrease the rotation of ads, so they appear less often.