Microsoft adCenter Labs Unveils Digital Advertising Innovations at Fourth Annual Demo Fest

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 5, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled a series of next-generation digital advertising technologies at its fourth annual Demo Fest, an event that showcases some of the leading-edge technologies in development by Microsoft adCenter Labs (http://adlab.microsoft.com). The technologies highlighted at this event included the latest advances and algorithms in content analysis and computer vision for video and images, speech recognition for contextual video ads, and advanced marketing intelligence that enable enhanced audience insight and better targeting capabilities for advertisers.

“We believe the technical advances and intelligence we are creating at adCenter Labs can change the game of online advertising,” said Tarek Najm, technical fellow at Microsoft. “Solutions to today’s challenges must be capable of handling and understanding the complexity of vast amounts of data. To address that challenge, we are developing advertising algorithms that can anticipate and understand consumer behavior faster than the speed of thought, so that we can help advertisers create more efficient and relevant user experiences.”

The following seven demos were shown at today’s event:

  • 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.

  • Content Analysis Engine. This technology uses advanced algorithms to automatically extract and categorize information from search queries and Web page contents to better understand user intent and minimize search engine marketing complexity. Search engine marketers can use this technology to discover valuable keywords relevant to their category or to bid on categories, such as digital cameras, instead of managing each individual keyword associated with a category. Categorization also helps publishers more effectively monetize their advertising inventory by opening up additional contextual content opportunities deeper into their content pages.

  • Content Detection in Sub-documents. This technology identifies sensitive or unsuitable content such as pornography, weapons or negative sentiments that advertisers would not likely want to be associated with, and automatically blocks contextual ads related to that content. Microsoft is building on “whole-page content detection,” shown at last year’s Demo Fest, to respect users’ sensitivities and advertisers’ brands and images. This year the adCenter Labs team took it one step further by analyzing individual sections of a complex Web page, such as the MSN home page, and only serving contextual ads that relate to nonsensitive content.

  • Ad Research Dashboard. The dashboard builds on the success of the Keyword Services Platform (KSP) introduced at Demo Fest last year. It is a flexible and central place within adCenter that provides marketers with access to analytics and advanced algorithms that are tied to actual data sets from adCenter to help them maximize the effectiveness of their search marketing campaigns. The dashboard builds on Microsoft’s commitment to provide advertisers and agencies with as much data transparency as possible to help them to make more informed decisions about their search marketing campaigns.

“The ultimate marketing objective is to find a sweet spot where you connect with a consumer on their terms,” said Jeffrey Pruitt, executive vice president of Corporate Partnerships for iCrossing and president of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO). “The insights and research that are coming out of Microsoft’s adCenter Labs help provide agencies and advertisers with smarter, more relevant online advertising technologies and tools to make informed decisions on those connection points.”

About Microsoft Advertiser & Publisher Solutions

Microsoft Advertiser & Publisher Solutions (APS) provides world-class advertising platforms and tools for advertisers, agencies and publishers. Its mission is to make buying and selling media simpler, smarter and more cost-effective across media and devices in the Microsoft network of properties and beyond. The APS portfolio includes Microsoft adCenter, Atlas, DRIVEpm, Massive and ScreenTonic. APS businesses span search, display and emerging media including mobile, gaming, video on demand and IPTV. More information can be found at http://advertising.microsoft.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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