MSN Forges Alliance With Unicast, Raises the Bar on Rich Media Ads

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 3, 2002 — Microsoft Corp. today announced an alliance with Unicast Communications Corp., a leading provider of online advertising solutions, and its support for Unicast’s Online Format Suite on MSN®
, the Web’s most popular portal. As an extension of the rich media vendor offerings on MSN, which started with Eyeblaster Inc. and PointRoll Inc. in September, the alliance solidifies the commitment MSN has made to providing advertisers with a wide and varied selection of advertising options.

The alliance combines the most-sought-after audience with a leading provider of standardized online ad formats. Advertisers and advertising agencies now can place any of the rich media ads within Unicast’s Online Format Suite on the high-traffic channels of MSN, capturing consumers’ attention with integrated and consistent messaging across all their online and offline advertising initiatives. MSN’s global acceptance of Unicast’s In-Between-Page ads (SUPERSTITIAL®
transitional ads), Over-Page units (TopLayer (TM) floating ads) and In-Page units (banners, skyscrapers and IMU units) also coincides with the rollout of rich media services to the 34 international MSN markets.

“MSN made a commitment to offer advertisers an unbeatable selection of rich media services and third-party vendors,”
said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer for MSN.
“Our relationship with Unicast further meets that goal by offering advertisers a highly engaged audience of 300 million unique users worldwide as well as a more diverse variety of advertising options.”

MSN differentiates itself from other Web portals by providing more control over the rich media advertising environment and its experience. Rather than relying solely on individual vendors to control the frequency of rich media ads, MSN uses proprietary, network-focused technology to regulate ad frequency. This control mechanism protects the consumer experience, helps prevent overexposure of an advertiser’s brand, and prevents multiple rich media ad experiences from appearing simultaneously while consumers are on the MSN network.

The broad acceptance by MSN of Unicast’s Online Format Suite is an important milestone for the industry and advertisers that want to reach a worldwide audience efficiently and seamlessly. The alliance allows advertisers to use their offline assets, including television commercials, to create In-Between-Page ads that anchor their online campaigns, then extend those messages in Over-Page and In-Page units to achieve overall consistency and message reinforcement. This single-source solution is designed to eliminate the duplicating and time-consuming process of multiple negotiations and make online advertising a more efficient medium in which to operate.

“We are pleased to help lead the global charge of rich media services from MSN,”
said Allie Savarino, senior vice president of Global Marketing and Partner Services at Unicast.
“Underscoring this announcement is the priority that both our companies place on providing advertisers with the kind of services and standardization they want and expect. We are very proud to support MSN so it can offer advertisers a way to deliver integrated messaging to a global audience more efficiently and at a more favorable cost.”

Rich Media Continues to Gain Traction on MSN

The Unicast alliance marks the third major third-party rich media vendor adopted by MSN. Unicast joins Eyeblaster and PointRoll, the two developers and distributors of rich media advertisements that helped kick off the MSN rich media strategy in September. In the two months since that launch, MSN has moved steadily toward networkwide acceptance of rich media. MSN also is the first publisher to accept the Unicast product suite worldwide. More information on rich media solutions on MSN can be found at http://advantage.msn.com/adproducts/3rdpartyrichmedia.asp .

Essentially all MSN channels in the United States began accepting ads based on Unicast technology in mid-November, including MSN Money, MSNBC, the MSN Autos online automotive service, the MSN House and Home online home and real estate buying guide, the Slate® online magazine and the MSN Hotmail®
Web-based e-mail service. These channels also accept rich media ads built on Eyeblaster and PointRoll technology.

The international adoption of rich media services on MSN began in November and is scheduled to conclude by the middle of December. Once the rollout to all countries and subsidiaries is complete, advertisers will be able to run dynamic rich media ads essentially anywhere in the world that MSN is available.

In addition to accepting ads from third-party rich media vendors, MSN will continue to offer rich media ads developed internally at Microsoft, especially as customized proprietary advertising solutions.

About MSN

MSN has more than 9 million subscriptions and attracts more than 300 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 34 markets and 18 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and digital marketing solutions to businesses worldwide. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com/ . MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx .

About Unicast

Unicast is an online advertising solutions provider, which provides a comprehensive online format suite to its site and network partners and its agency and advertiser customers. Working with both advertisers and Web publishers, Unicast understands and acts on behalf of both the buyers and sellers of online advertising to ensure that all of their online advertising needs are fulfilled through one central source. This unique central position in the marketplace allows Unicast to continually deliver complete format and service solutions to both sides of the advertising equation.

Unicast is based in New York City with offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Brazil and London. The company was founded as a joint venture between Publicis, parent company of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, and BBN Technologies (now part of Verizon Communications (NYSE
“VZ”
)) and is funded by these companies as well as Grace Capital, Intel (Nasdaq
“INTC”
) and a number of private investors. More information on Unicast and its Online Format Suite can be found at http://www.unicast.com/ .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, MSN, Slate and Hotmail are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the 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 http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .

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