Microsoft's Moves in Advertising

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Microsoft is definitely serious about becoming an advertising play on the web. Their $6 Billion acquistion of aQuantive, an online advertising and marketing company, was just the first in a series of steps they plan on taking in this arena.

MS’ adCenter Labs lies at the heart of a lot of these future initiatives and is a great source of interesting information for marketers – like this Demographics Prediction tool (go to town on your favorite Real Estate 2.0 site) or their Top Search Term Demographical Composition Study (.Docx file).

One nugget; “Female Windows Live Search audiences are more likely to click on mortgage ads, as they generated 59% of the total clicks.”

Mortgage Ad Demographics

Who knew?

At their recent Demo Fest, MS unveiled a number of new technologies they are working on. Several of which conceivably have application to real estate.

Air Wave. This technology creates a “fourth screen” experience beyond the TV, PC and mobile phone to enable advertisers to engage consumers outside of the home in public places such as an airport or a shopping mall. By using an interactive, multitouch screen display, consumers can play games or interact with advertisements to receive coupons or product information. With the help of a webcam, they can try on products such as sunglasses virtually. This technology builds on the “large display ads” technology showcased at last year’s Demo Fest.

Contextual Ads for Video.
Through speech recognition, this technology enables ads to be dynamically served based on the content discussed in the video. For example, if the topic of the video was gardening, ads related to gardening or lawn improvement could be served in an adjacent text-based ad as the video played. For advertisers, this provides access to consumers while at the point of consideration.Intelligent Bug Ads. This technology balances the interests of advertisers and the target audience by locating nonintrusive frames in a video in which to place ads. By using a computer vision algorithm to calculate the least intrusive spot in the video, it approximates human judgment and places the ad in the video where it is least likely to interfere with the consumer’s viewing experience.

Visual Product Browsing. This tool uses computer vision algorithms to browse and categorize images as a human might, without the need for manual data tagging. Online shoppers could use this technology to visually browse categorized images of products such as lamps and narrow their search to find “more like this” options through physical and visual characteristics such as the product’s height, depth and width. This brings efficiency to photo browsing and enhanced targeting capabilities for advertisers who are trying to better understand user intent and preferences.

Couple some of these products with some of their other undertakings, namely Photosynth (see Next Generation Virtual Tours) and Surface (see Surface Technology Could Save Full Service Brokers), and we could actually (surprise!) see some real innovation coming out of Redmond in the future.