An ePublication from Ecommerce Partners

Microsoft and McCann

By | November 1, 2006 11:13 am

I can be a bit glib, and even flip, sometimes. I admit it.

My confessional mode is brought on by Microsoft’s ad campaign starting today (Friday Oct 27, 2006) trying once again to boost their search engine capacity. And what I have to confess is that in a recent article. I dismissively referred to MSN Search as appearing really low on the totem pole of engines, especially when it comes to directing traffic toward internet shopping sites. My fine editors here at E-Commerce Partners rightly answered my own cheap rhetorical question “does anyone remember MSN as a search engine? – at all?” with a resounding “Yes. We do”.

The editors expanded by saying:

“Since we are partly a search marketing company we are well aware that MSN is part of the big 3 of search, though a very small part”

Quite right. And now Microsoft is trying hard to increase that “very small part” at the expense of the other big Two, Google and Yahoo.

Its ad, created by the advertising agency McCann WorldGroup, is promoting Windows Live, which formally launched in September and is intended to eventually replace MSN Search — itself less than two years old — as Microsoft’s flagship in the search business.

They have a ways to go. Despite a massive, expensive campaign last year – said at the time to be the company’s biggest media-buying effort since the launch of the MSN “Butterfly” branding in 2000 – MSN Search just hasn’t been able to gain any real traction with consumers. Last month, Microsoft sites garnered 11.9% of searches — down from 15.6% the year before, according to the digital ratings-measurement company comScore. Google, meanwhile, was satisfyingly growing its market share to 45.1% last month — up from 37.6% one year ago.

Microsoft and McCann have decided to place the ad, in full-page form, in influential opinion-shaping print venues such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Jose Mercury News.

They take pains to emphasize features like Windows Live’s image search, local search, and mapping tools. Frankly, these don’t add up to too innovative a package to me.

But the confessional mode is what caught my eye most – and prompted my wanting to report on it. The ad says openly:

“Before we begin, let us state the obvious. We’re late to the game. We admit it. But instead of shrugging our shoulders and becoming a footnote in search history, we’ve decided to write a few new chapters.”

I guess it could work. Avis car-rental has made a fairly successful fetish out of being No 2. Can Bill Gates win out by admitting to being No 3?

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Founded in 1998, ECommerce Partners is a full-service, ecommerce and interactive agency headquartered in New York City. Best known for our unique process methodology, we combine Internet expertise, creative talent, and business know-how to help clients across a variety of industries achieve rapid, measurable online marketing results.

True to our motto, "We build businesses, not just websites," we provide large and mid-sized companies with a full range of Internet marketing, website design and ecommerce solutions geared to maximize online revenues.



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