Microsoft Advertising: “last click shouldn’t get all the credit”

Last year at Advance08 Microsoft announced both a new name for their advertising strategy – “Microsoft Advertising”, and the concept of “engagement mapping”.  The thought is that a consumer may look at numerous ads, websites, and brand impressions well before making the “last click” to make a purchase, so why should that last click get all the credit?  Of course Google has built an empire on precisely the notion that the last click is the only valuable one, so it makes sense for Microsoft to attack it.

Today Microsoft reiterated its attack on last click thinking at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Annual Meeting.  At the meeting, according to Twitter accounts of the proceedings, Howe likened last click to the NFL:  “if the NFL only paid the top sco(r)ers, teams start losing because there’s no defense or offensive line.”

Howe was “engaging, informative and entertaining” as he announced MS PubCenter (which has been in beta under the name adCenter Publisher) the Publisher’s Leadership Council and the Microsoft Media Network, although some in attendance weren’t entirely sold: “can MSFT be trusted as a leader in "Transparency and Trust"?"

The Publisher’s Leadership Council, according to a press release issued today by Microsoft,

“comprises digital media executives and discipline-leading practitioners, including charter members from IAC, Dow Jones Online, The New York Times Co., Time Inc. and Viacom Inc. This group will provide firsthand perspectives and insights to inform PubCenter features and functionality, including enhanced targeting, measurement and reporting functionality. Partner company executives will form a steering committee, focused on framing the key challenges and opportunities facing the digital media industry”

Microsoft is counting on changing the game in online advertising, and Howe said "Our competition isn’t with each other. It’s with offline, and waste”, but others weren’t so sure, saying: “this is not good for publishers. microsoft is not unbiased. more concerning than google doubleclick acquisition”.

Microsoft today also released some documents related to engagement mapping, purporting to show that “94% of online advertising interactions are actually occurring prior to a conversion or a sale and concludes that while web publishers are doing their job in engaging with consumers before they purchase, they don’t get the credit they deserve in reaching them”.

As Microsoft moves (or is pushed) into a more services and advertising oriented model, getting advertisers excited about changing the game away from last click thinking is emerging as a core strategy.  Will it work, especially as the advertising world is shaken by the economy?  Howe seems to think that “adversity must fuel innovation”.  We’ll have wait and see if he’s right.