MSN Again to Make Ideas Happen With Young Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 20, 2004 — The MSN®
network of Internet services today announced that, after receiving unprecedented Web traffic and targeted consumer response for its inaugural Ideas Happen contest, Visa has again chosen MSN to build and host the online hub for the promotional competition designed to build brand awareness of Ideas Happen among young consumers.

Consumers ages 18 to 29 can submit ideas for businesses and other ventures and vote on the best submissions via a custom-designed site created by MSN for the promotion at . Over three months, more than 5 million unique users visited the site MSN created for last year’s contest. No other Visa contest has ever received as much online traffic in a comparable time period.

“The Ideas Happen campaign is an incredible example of how brands can leverage the power and reach of MSN and the immediacy and interactivity of the online medium to make big results happen online,” said Gayle Troberman, director of custom brand solutions for MSN. “We’re thrilled to work with VISA and AKQA again this year to continue to prove what’s possible when you engage the consumer directly and give them an opportunity to do what they love to do online: share ideas, express opinions and be entertained.”

Campaign Boosts Visa’s Image With Target Market

In addition to the increase in Visa’s brand awareness among the 5 million unique users who visited the contest site last year, the heavy traffic helped build Visa’s image among young adults who are still forging lifelong allegiances to consumer brands. According to polling conducted by market research agency Millward Brown,* perceptions of Visa improved markedly after the Ideas Happen campaign. The number who deem Visa the best credit card overall increased by 13 percent, while those who agreed that Visa offers unique and different features jumped by 9 percent. In addition, 8 percent more of those polled said they consider Visa the most innovative and forward-thinking credit card company.

“By forging this strategic relationship, MSN brings us the technical expertise needed to make a program like this a success. Ideas Happen is more effective in reaching our target audience due to MSN,” said Jon Raj, director of advertising for Visa USA. “Teaming up with MSN has allowed us to realize the potential of online marketing and allowed MSN to stretch its own limits in terms of interactivity and engaging young consumers.”

Visa Aims High With Second Ideas Happen Contest

This year’s contest, which began Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 1, will once again draw on the “reality” concept that dominates television and other forms of entertainment. Young adults can submit online entries until Oct. 20 in three categories: entrepreneurial, self-expression and community. The written entries are then displayed, along with photographs or video testimonials, on the MSN site, where they also are reviewed by celebrity judges and later voted on by site visitors. The 12 finalists whose ideas receive the most online votes will each receive $25,000 from Visa to make their ideas a reality.

Visa and its advertising company, AKQA, devised the Ideas Happen campaign, and selected MSN to develop, build and maintain the online destination as well as promote the program throughout the MSN network. These promotions will appear on MSN sites with the highest appeal to young consumers in the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, including the MSN home page, MSN Messenger, MSN Entertainment, and MSN Hotmail®

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 350 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 39 markets and 20 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and online advertising opportunities 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 . MSN worldwide sites are located at .

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.

* Study ran from April 2 to July 30, 2004.

Microsoft, MSN 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.

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