On January 12, 2006, Microsoft adCenter Labs was created to focus on research and innovation for digital advertising serving for Microsoft, MSN, and Live. There is a large amount of statistical modeling centered around adCenter so that Microsoft can monetize in the world of online advertising.
The four key segments that adCenter is focusing on which include Paid Search, Contextual Advertising, Behavioral Targeting, and Emerging Markets. Based on the amount of research happening at Microsoft and given that there is a large number of demos available on the Microsoft adCenter website, this should keep Google and Yahoo! on their feet about the warming up of competition.
Search Funnel & Keyword Forecast
Please bear in mind that these demos are not in actual Microsoft production as of yet, but are just shown to demonstrate conceptual ideas. Two of the demos that I’ll highlight is Search Funnel and Keyword Forecast since Search Funnel was recently updated and since Keyword Forecast is new.
The concept behind Search Funnel is that searches performed by users usually follow a sequential pattern and if predictions can be made, the chances are that you can optimize keyword selection for ads. The example used on the Search Funnel page is BMW. If you type BMW in the search field on the Search Funnel adCenter page, you can see the statistics that this same user would also search for Mercedes Benz, Audi, etc.
You won’t be able to see this unless you actually conduct a search, but the sample size that is used for BMW is 15,607 and the results say that 795/15,607 of everyone that searched for BMW then searched for Mercedes after and then 716/15607 for Lexus, 454/15607 for Audi, 355/15607 for Honda, and 347/15607 for Mercedes Benz. Given that there were 795 people that searched for Mercedes immediately after BMW, it would make more sense to place Mercedes-related advertisements on the side for people who search for BMW.
Keyword Forecast is the new project added to Microsoft adCenter Labs and seems to perform the same function as Yahoo! Search Marketing’s Resource Center*, except a little bit more advanced.
Keyword Forecast allows you to discover the impression count of certain keywords and helps you forecast the demographic of people searching for these keywords. Keyword Forecast allows you to generate charts in Flash, images, or text. You can search and compare for multiple keywords on these charts as I have demonstrated below. The keywords I chose was RFID, logistics, and manufacturing:
The sudden spike and drop of RFID searches during August 2006 along with the fact that RFID searches are predominantly males makes for an interesting study by those who advertise RFID with those who use adCenter and AdWords.
Other competitors in this field include Google AdWords and Amazon.com Associates. Upcoming projects by Microsoft adCenter include Ads Delivery on Social Networks and Behavioral Targeting Systems.
*Yahoo Search Marketing! was the result of the $1.7 billion acquisition of Overture Services Inc. (Overture.com).