Microsoft trots out online ad tools from its labs

Microsoft trots out online ad tools from its labs

Microsoft is showing off new online ad tools and technologies at its Demo Fest event

At a time when it's losing ground in key areas of the online services market, Microsoft is parading several Internet advertising technologies it hopes will boost its revenue in this area.

On Wednesday at its Demo Fest event Washington, U.S., Microsoft was slated to give attendees a peek at what it calls several "breakthrough" tools in development at the labs of its adCenter online advertising platform.

These are some of around 60 online ad technologies under development at adCenter Labs, focused in areas like keyword and content; ad selection and relevance; audience; social networking; video; platforms; and devices.

Still, Microsoft begins 2007 trailing rivals like Google in online advertising revenue and search engine usage. With the online ad market growing at over 30 percent, Microsoft's Online Services Business saw its revenue drop in the company's first quarter, ended Sept. 30, 2006, to US$539 million from US$564 million in the same quarter the previous year. The division posted an operating loss of $136 million, compared with an operating profit of US$68 million in the same quarter of the previous year. By comparison, Google's revenue, which mostly comes from search engine online ads, grew 70 percent and earnings almost doubled in its third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, 2006.

Meanwhile, in December, Microsoft's share of U.S. search engine queries continued to fall, landing at 10.5 percent, a distant third place from leader Google, which nabbed 47.3 percent, according to comScore Networks Inc. In July 2005, Microsoft's search engine share stood at 15.5 percent and Google's at 36.5 percent, according to comScore.

These lackluster results come despite heavy investments from Microsoft in recent years in its search engine and online ad technologies, prompted by its hopes of taking advantage of the fast-growing Internet ad market.

The tools and technologies it demonstrated on Wednesday include:

-- Keyword Services Platform, which includes application programming interfaces (APIs) for keyword recommendation, forecasting, categorization and monetization so that developers can create better online ad applications;

-- Commercial intent detection for advanced keyword analysis to determine which users plan to make a purchase and which ones are just seeking information about products or other topics;

-- Large display feedback, which, using vision-based technology, measures an audience's size and demographics and tracks people's gestures.

It wasn't immediately possible to obtain comment from Microsoft regarding the availability of these tools and technologies.

More information about adCenter Labs technologies are here.

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