Microsoft Announces Customer Care Initiative for Web Advertisers

REDMOND, Wash., March 17, 1999 — MSN sales and marketing, Microsoft Corp.’s online advertising sales and support group for the MSN
network of Internet services, today announced a new initiative to strengthen customer service for Web advertisers. MSN sales and marketing representatives outlined the customer care initiative while presenting preliminary findings of Microsoft research into the effectiveness of online advertising at an Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) conference in New York called
“Accountability Now: The New Marketing Contract.”

Customer care is a component of a larger MSN sales and marketing effort to provide high-quality service to online advertisers. Last week, Microsoft discussed plans to quadruple the MSN sales force during the next 18 months. Recently Microsoft has worked closely with advertising agencies to learn about and address online advertisers’ needs.

“The MSN network of Internet services reaches more than 44 percent of consumers on the Web, and our deep verticals provide a highly qualified audience for advertisers,”
said Charlotte Guyman, general manager, MSN sales and marketing.
“However, customer service is a true differentiator in the ad-buying and customer-retention process. Our customer care initiative is designed to elevate service levels and help MSN advertisers understand how best to use the medium and measure the success of their Web-based marketing campaigns.”

Research Demonstrates Effectiveness of Web Ads

Microsoft’s ad effectiveness research – conducted by E-valuations Research, with Burke Marketing Research and the Advertising Research Foundation serving as consultants – is an important component of the customer care initiative. The research found that online advertising is effective as a branding medium and showed a positive correlation between online ad recall and brand awareness. It also demonstrated that Web advertising can increase both brand perception and purchase consideration. For example, the research showed that an online ad campaign more than doubled unaided brand awareness for a holiday-season film release (24 percent vs. 11 percent). The research also showed intent to purchase more than doubled among ad recallers compared to nonrecallers (19 percent vs. 8 percent) after an online ad campaign by a popular worldwide men’s apparel maker. Eleven out of the 12 customer campaigns tested showed a positive directional increase in aided ad awareness.

Microsoft will share research results with customers of MSN and discuss the results in broader terms with prospective online advertisers.

“The top goal for MSN was to provide customers with information about online advertising’s effectiveness as a branding medium,”
said Tom Buehrer, president of E-valuations Research.
“E-valuations, working with ARF and Burke, created a methodology that could be useful across the entire online advertising industry.”

Advertising agencies and customers frequently cite the lack of industry standards and consistency for measuring results as a barrier to broader adoption of online advertising and wholesale commitment to larger advertising spending. MSN sales and marketing executives developed the customer care initiative to work closely with advertising customers and agencies to improve their understanding of the Internet’s role in both traditional and new media.

“This research is just one example of the way Microsoft is helping John Hancock use the Web as an effective advertising and marketing medium,”
said Kathy Graveline, senior vice president of alternative distribution, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.
“MSN sales offers us not only the right customers at the right time, but also great customer service to make the most of this advertising medium.”

Additional Customer Care Components

Under the customer care initiative, the MSN sales and marketing group is interacting with advertising agencies and customers to gauge their online advertising needs and advance their understanding about online advertising’s role in the marketing mix. Other customer care components include the following:

  • Media buyer and planner focus groups. Extensive focus groups conducted with media buyers and planners to better understand their needs during the purchase cycle revealed three critical areas for improving industry standards: reach, cost-effectiveness and measurement.

  • Ad agency interviews. Advertising agencies shared their frustrations about issues such as timely campaign reporting, acceptance of rich media ads and turnaround on incorporating rich media submissions into a running campaign. As a result, MSN reduced html rich media submission turnaround from five days to three days, and will be publishing detailed rich media acceptance policies regarding formats and technologies, broken down by site. MSN already offers online analysis tools for reporting that provide quick campaign results.

  • MSN breakfast series. MSN is sponsoring breakfast presentations of critical findings from primary Internet advertising research. The first presentations of the series were held in San Francisco (Feb. 23) and New York (March 5), both of which were sold-out events. MSN is sharing findings from special promotions, advertising campaigns and cross-network marketing at these presentations.

“These are some of the ways Microsoft is investing in customer service,”
Guyman said.
“We’ve doubled our sales force within the last 90 days, and under our customer care initiative, we’re establishing more processes for developing and sharing Microsoft’s knowledge about qualifying reach and standardizing measurement to create a more powerful understanding of how Web advertising can be used most effectively.”

MSN Sales and Marketing

The MSN sales and marketing team offers online advertising and sponsorship opportunities within the MSN network of Internet services. The integration of the Microsoft® portal site and best-of-breed Internet services into a cohesive network has established MSN as one of the most visited sites on the Internet. In addition to this broad consumer reach, MSN properties deliver a highly qualified audience to businesses, helping them achieve their sales and marketing goals. The MSN sales and marketing team’s offerings include sponsorships of content and service segments, banner ads, promotions, cross-network packages and rich media online commercials.

About MSN and Microsoft

MSN is the network of Internet services from Microsoft that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. The network of MSN services, located on the Web at ( ), helps people easily stay in touch with friends and colleagues, make smart and secure purchasing decisions, and get more done. MSN offers award-winning e-mail functionality; personal communications services; customizable access to news; popular sites for travel, investing, automotive services, shopping and more; an online community; a Web search engine and directories; and top-rated Internet access.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) 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.

Microsoft and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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