Enhanced MSN Communication Services Deliver Compelling Opportunities for Advertisers

REDMOND, Wash., April 7, 2005 —MSN today announced new opportunities for advertisers to more deeply integrate their brands into consumers’ overall communications experience with the latest version of MSN® Messenger and MSN Spaces. At the center of the offerings are branded theme packs* for MSN Messenger 7.0, which offer engaging ways to interact with a brand while also extending the life of the ad campaign and helping increase advertisers’ return on investment.

In addition to new global advertising opportunities in MSN Messenger, MSN announced the first U.S. advertising partner for MSN Spaces: Volvo Cars of North America LLC. MSN Spaces is a new service through which millions of consumers can share their stories with their friends and family or the entire world. The new campaign from Volvo taps into the storytelling power of the Internet in an entertaining manner that advertises the brand and also helps introduce consumers to new stories from the community.

“Deeper brand integration into MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces will enable our advertisers to connect with their target audiences in more creative, spontaneous and unobtrusive ways,” said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer for MSN. “Integrating great advertising opportunities is core to our product development process, and as consumers connect through these new branded entertainment experiences in the MSN environment, the results for advertisers are higher brand awareness and favorability.”

Advertising Reaches Heart of MSN Messenger Experience

Every month more than 155 million active users log in to the MSN Messenger service. The new theme packs in MSN Messenger 7.0, which include backgrounds, emoticons, dynamic display pictures and Winks, provide marketers with more compelling opportunities to position their brands at the heart of the consumer’s online experience in a tangible and viral way. With theme packs, customers can use the best of customized content from within the MSN Messenger service to personalize their MSN Messenger experience in just one click. Advertisers including Sprite and adidas have signed up to deliver theme packs with the MSN Messenger 7.0 launch.

Sprite, the world’s leading lemon-lime soft drink, has incorporated new MSN Messenger advertising features within the recent launch of “The Scenario” (http://music.msn.com/thescenario), an exclusive, branded online entertainment experience designed for teens. Created in collaboration with the MSN Branded Entertainment and Experiences Team, “The Scenario” brings Sprite-obsessed spokesperson, Miles Thirst, to life in the digital world through an MSN Messenger theme pack in the U.S., among other things.

adidas, a global leader in sports apparel delivering state-of-the-art sports footwear, apparel and accessories, will be integrating its brand and have a stronger global presence within MSN communications services beginning today. The new MSN Messenger 7.0 adidas-branded theme packs, available today in eight countries, will promote the newly launched adidas_1 shoe. adidas ads also will be prominently featured on the new MSN Today site, which provides customers with entertaining and popular content. In addition, rich-media adidas ads will be integrated into customers’ MSN Messenger games experience.

Other advertising options for MSN Messenger 7.0 include these:

  • MSN Video Conversation. More than 30 million unique users each month use MSN’s basic webcam feature. With MSN Messenger 7.0, MSN will introduce MSN Video Conversation, which includes full-screen synchronized audio and video capabilities. Advertisers will have the opportunity to host a brief commercial-like experience before each MSN Video Conversation session, reaching a highly engaged audience.

  • Conversation window text ads. New advertising space in MSN Messenger 7.0 includes a text ad at the bottom of the MSN Messenger screen that sends consumers directly to the marketer’s ad or Web site with one click.

  • MSN Tabs. Another new way for advertisers to prominently integrate their brands on MSN Messenger is by sponsoring MSN Tabs, which allow consumers to click directly through to information and services elsewhere on the MSN network from within the Messenger window and closely engage with advertisers’ brands.

  • MSN Today. MSN is offering even richer video and advertising opportunities on the new version of MSN Today. MSN Today offers rich-media sponsorship opportunities, and advertisers in the U.S. can leverage the video advertising opportunities to captivate the attention of the global MSN Messenger community.

  • Half banner. MSN will continue to offer advertisers a half banner space in the MSN Messenger client. The format of the ad remains the same; however, a refresh of the main window will make it more useful and compelling.

New Ad Opportunities on MSN Spaces Effectively Reach Fast-Growing Audience

With the launch of MSN Spaces today, MSN announced that Volvo Cars would be the U.S. launch partner and the first MSN advertising partner for the service. MSN Spaces enables consumers to easily create and maintain a personal Web site for posting blogs, online photo albums, personal music lists and other content they want to share with others. More than 4.5 million consumers have already started their own MSN Spaces sites since December 2004, when the beta version of this service became available, giving Volvo access to a highly valuable and rapidly expanding audience.

MSN and Volvo approached the advertising opportunity with the service in a new and innovative way. Volvo sought to partner with MSN because of the unique opportunity offered by MSN Spaces to reach users who are engaged in telling the stories of their lives, mirroring the “Volvo for life” brand campaign. The campaign centers on the What’s Your Story? theme, which includes a destination Web page (http://whatsyourstory.msn.com) that enables consumers to discover great stories being told by others in the MSN community. Besides the What’s Your Story? component of the Volvo and MSN Spaces advertising campaign in the U.S., Volvo’s ads on the service include a universal ad package on the MSN Spaces home page, unobtrusive text links with graphics at the top of users’ personal Spaces, and sponsored MSN Spaces with editorial content initially from MSN Autos and MSN Money, with expansions planned.

“We’re pleased to be the first and exclusive brand featured in the latest launch of MSN Spaces in the U.S., a unique and popular destination for the types of consumers Volvo is eager to reach,” said Denise Clause, e-business manager of Volvo Cars of North America LLC. “MSN’s combination of digital innovation, exceptional creative assistance, comprehensive account support and unparalleled worldwide audience reach has enabled Volvo to consistently attain or exceed its online advertising benchmarks year after year.”

MSN will expand the advertising opportunities for marketers in all global markets where MSN Spaces is available. The unobtrusive text links with graphics at the top of customers’ personal Spaces and a sponsored placement on the MSN Spaces home page will offer attractive prospects to reach targeted local audiences.

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 380 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 40 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 http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.

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.

* Theme packs other than those from advertisers may be offered for a fee.

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