REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 24, 1998 — Microsoft® Sidewalk
, the local online consumer city guide published by Microsoft Corp., is preparing to launch a greatly expanded product later this year, and thousands of advertisers and promotion partners are already signing up with the new service. These advertisers and promotion partners include thousands of local businesses as well as leading companies such as Ace Hardware Corp., Alamo Rent A Car Inc., Albertson’s.com, barnesandnoble.com, Bloomingdale’s, Continental Airlines Inc., Eddie Bauer Inc., Merrill Lynch & Company Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp., Norwest Bank, the Prudential Real Estate network, Rite Aid Corp., Visa U.S.A., Wells Fargo Bank and many others.
These marketing relationships often involve more than just advertising. For example, Albertsons is joining with Sidewalk in a marketing campaign to drive both online and retail sales. This campaign includes a broad range of promotional activities encompassing online, broadcast and print media. Meanwhile, Alamo, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines are working with Sidewalk for advertising, online sweepstakes and regional promotions.
The expanded offering of the Sidewalk city guide, scheduled to launch by the end of 1998, will include consumer buying guides with the current arts and entertainment information. These guides are designed to help users with every facet of major purchase decisions. While consumers will continue to turn to the arts and entertainment information in Sidewalk, soon they also will be able to benefit from buying tips, product reviews and yellow pages listings to help them locate merchants in their area that sell a specific good or service.
Because Sidewalk also plans to broaden its reach to consumers in cities nationwide, businesses across the country – and in a wider range of industries – are taking advantage of the opportunity to advertise on Sidewalk. These advertisers can choose from a broad range of targeting options, from category-specific ad rotations in particular buying guides, to enhanced yellow pages listings.
John Learish, director of marketing of Rite Aid, explained that his company chose to advertise on Sidewalk because of its targeting capabilities. “We chose Sidewalk for our first foray into online advertising because it gives us an unprecedented ability to target consumers when they are making a particular spending decision. With Sidewalk, for example, we can choose to target consumers in specific retail markets who happen to be looking for photofinishing services or beauty products.” Rite Aid is only one of thousands of advertisers attracted to the ability of Sidewalk to target customers in specific local markets just as they are ready to get out and do, see and spend.
According to Tony Spring, executive vice president of marketing for Bloomingdale’s, his goal has never been to reach “online consumers at large,” but to reach those consumers most likely to be interested in the products sold at Bloomingdale’s. “Sidewalk lets us target people who are actively seeking products in specific categories, and then direct them to the nearest Bloomingdale’s or, if there is no store in their area, lead them to our shop online,” Spring said. “You can’t get more targeted than that!”
Peter Atkins, general manager for advertising sales at Microsoft Sidewalk, explained that sales to date have exceeded all internal projections. “Advertisers’ enthusiasm shows we’re building the right product: consumer buying guides that bring advertisers and consumers together
just when it matters most.” According to Atkins, between 50 percent and 60 percent of current advertisers have already chosen to renew, and the average revenue per merchant and advertiser has tripled since last year. “At this rate, we may well run out of inventory before the new version of Sidewalk launches in the fall.”
Microsoft Sidewalk is the personalized online consumer guide that helps consumers get ideas and make decisions about where to go and what to see, do and buy in their area. From concerts to movies, restaurants and sporting events, Sidewalk provides previews, reviews and even customized suggestions about what’s happening every day. Sidewalk is available in Seattle; New York; Boston; Houston; Denver; Minneapolis/St. Paul; San Francisco; San Diego; Washington, D.C.; and Sydney, Australia. Sidewalk is scheduled to be available in the top 50 U.S. cities by the end of 1998.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
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