MSN Gets Rich

Following the lead of rivals America Online and Yahoo! , Microsoft’s MSN has become the latest

major Internet portal to beef up its rich media advertising

capabilities

Through partnerships with Eyeblaster and Point-Roll, the Redmond,

Wash.-based ISP and Web publisher said it plans to increase the number

of, and the efficacy of, interactive advertisements on its pages.

The agreements, terms of which were not disclosed, enable MSN to

sell ads developed using Philadelphia-based Point-Roll’s drop-down

interactivity and New York-based Eyeblaster’s “takeover,” full-page

overlay, and interstitial animation.

Such rich media placements typically fetch a higher premium than do

smaller and easier-to-ignore static ads — the chief reason that Yahoo!

and AOL Time Warner have undertaken similar efforts to

offer the formats on their online services.

“To be effective, advertising needs to catch the attention of

consumers — and that’s just what the new rich media offerings from MSN

do, using formats and vendors many advertisers trust and already use,”

said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer at

the portal.

For its part, MSN said it is ready to sell ads across the twelve

most popular channels on its U.S. service, which include CNBC on MSN

Money, MSNBC, Slate, and the portal’s automobile area, MSN Carpoint.

It also plans to add rich media to its 34 international sites,

though it did not reveal when it might be expected to do so. MSN

Hotmail will begin running rich media ads later in the fall.

The portal said it would take steps to ensure that rich media ads

from different vendors don’t skirt frequency caps or appear in tandem

because they’re being delivered from different ad systems.

The alliances also mark a change of pace for MSN, which in the past

has relied on rich media technology that it’s developed in-house, in

the form of its Next-Generation Ad Products. While MSN said it plans

to promote its new partners’ formats heavily, it will continue to offer

NGAP ads — some of which duplicate functions of Point-Roll and

Eyeblaster ads — as a customized offering.

That thinking is rooted in the idea that by switching to third-party

— and site-agnostic — solutions, MSN will encourage advertisers and

agencies to develop rich media ads for its pages, since they’re already

familiar with the formats.

“Placing rich media ads on MSN is extremely attractive now that MSN

is working with the same rich media vendors we use,” said James Fabin,

Internet marketing manager at Hyundai Motor America, one of the first

advertisers to use the new formats on MSN. Carat Interactive’s Lot21

Studios handled the work for Hyundai.

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