Microsoft Pushes a “Behavioral Targeting Product Roadmap” and it is “Betting” on Increased Consumer Targeting, inc. “Retargeting.” Company Wants to “Live the Data”

The potential combination of the behavioral targeting technologies of both Microsoft and Yahoo! should be one of the key areas investigated by antitrust authorities.  Privacy issues are also important for regulators to address with the proposed deal.  So these current behavioral targeting job openings at Microsoft provide a glimpse into these issues.

Microsoft is now seeking a “Product Marketing Manager of Behavioral Targeting on the Audience Select team…The Product Marketing Manager will establish the requirements and go to market strategy for Microsoft’s Behavioral Targeting product. S/he will partner with a team of world-class engineers, client service, business operations, legal, privacy and other product marketers to envision and design the industry’s best targeting technology to connect advertisers with their audience. The candidate chosen for this position will be responsible for creating the product GTM roadmap, developing and prioritizing segment requirements and designing GTM models to support the sale and delivery of behaviorally targeted advertising. S/he will be Microsoft’s resident expert on Behavioral Targeting and will be the first person to explain and communicate business metrics – particularly sell-thru – to field, business, and engineering…Articulate the behavioral targeting product roadmap to key customers and partners, and aggregate industry feedback in a form that is actionable for development…Influence long-range, multi-release planning for behavioral targeting…Someone with a deep passion for advertising technology and a deep knowledge of the targeted industry…”

Then look at this position for a “Taxonomist/Audience Intelligence.”  Note that they include the fiction that Microsoft will compete with Yahoo!!!

Online advertising is the biggest growth opportunity for Microsoft. This business currently generates about $2B in revenue for Microsoft with tremendous opportunity ahead, given how the industry wide advertising is shifting to digital media. Join and help take our digital advertising to the next level to compete against Google and Yahoo with our initiatives in Audience Intelligence. Our group is chartered to develop an industry leading targeting system for all our ad products and services. Effective targeting helps an advertiser reach their core audience and will drive high value propositions to the end customers. We as a company is betting on this initiative to differentiate our advertising offerings to our customers and to further grow our advertising revenue.

We are seeking an experienced taxonomist to provide thought leadership in taxonomy, classification, and metadata management. Audience Intelligence enables the discovery and inference of user profiles, intent and interaction while respecting privacy and trust, with the ultimate goal of maximizing benefits for users, advertisers and publishers. Our focus spans all types of digital advertising such as search, display and emerging media including mobile, gaming, video on demand, and IPTV.

And they also want someone to help its behavioral retargeting initiatives (which it calls remessaging!)

The Search & Media Network Group within Microsoft Advertising is looking for a rock star product manager to deliver against revenue goals for Microsoft Advertising’s Re-Messaging product, by driving global business planning and execution, product marketing and competitive strategy…We work to seamlessly combine a range of individual online advertising products that span search, display and audience targeting, into solutions that address advertisers’ core campaign objectives.
Your core mission will be driving business revenue and field sales engagement with the Re-Messaging ad product (also known in the industry as Re-Targeting)…
Live the data, by building a deep understanding of the key metrics associated with the Re-Messaging business, and driving analysis into trends and emerging opportunities…Specific partners will include product planning, trade / field marketing, sales, yield/monetization and more…

Database Games AOL May Play: “Database Matching” Subscribers Behavior Online and Off

We think it’s ironic that the same week AOL joins with several other leading digital marketers to kill-off a new online privacy law in Maine designed to protect adolescents, an article in Advertising Age reveals how much it covets–and hopes to financially harvest–data from its 5.8 million customers.  Here’s an excerpt on so-called database matching–in essence, a digital spy watching what you do offline and on AOL:

Valuable eyeballs
While many major ad-supported internet properties would kill to have as many paying users as AOL, it’s the users’ behavior that puts them in the company’s sweet spot. Subscribers are AOL’s uber-users — more valuable than average because they use more AOL properties and products than typical web visitors and, as a whole, are a large part of the traffic that sees ads and then converts, either by clicking through or making a purchase.

The company also sees subscribers as a valuable source of research and insights — a sort of panel it can use to understand online behavior and ad receptivity.

“There are other ways they can bring value, ways we can use the data and understand how they interact with content,” Mr. Levick said [AOL’s president for global advertising and strategy]. “If we can look at them in the aggregate and see how they interact with certain advertising, it could bring us closer to the last mile of online research.”

How it would do that isn’t exactly clear, but like other web properties, AOL has databases of users who have registered for services and can work with marketers to “database match.”

“[Database matching] is interesting in terms of connecting online exposure to offline sales,” said Carrie Frolich, managing director-digital at Mediaedge:cia. “If I have a client that directly sells their product, be it a pizza-delivery or phone company, they know names and addresses, and AOL knows that. With the assistance of a third party, they can match up our database and their database and come up with a matched set that you can load into ad server and measure exposures and measure the lift.”

source:  Why once-dispensable access biz is central to AOL’s strategy.  Abbey Klaassen.  Ad Age.  August 24, 2009

The Battle to Protect Adolescent Privacy Online–Maine’s new law and beyond

Online marketers–including Time Warner’s AOL–are up in arms over a new state of Maine law that is designed to protect adolescent privacy online.  We won’t get into the specifics of Maine’s new law at the moment (but heard some online advertisers are especially fearful of the “private right of action” in the law, which could bring citizen lawsuits).  But we know its sponsors are among the growing number of advocates, health professionals, consumer groups and parents that want to see teenage privacy respected.  Digital marketing techniques are being used to target teens, including the gathering of data for behavioral profiling.   Groups have already asked the FTC and Congress to address this problem.

Responsible marketers should support new safeguards that respect teen privacy. There are also a variety of consumer protection issues connected to online advertising that need to be addressed.  We expect this issue will be fought out at the state, federal and international level.  My CDD will be continuing its work bringing unfair marketing practices targeting adolescents before the FTC and other regulators.

Network Neutrality, a Narrowed Internet and Digital TV [Attention DoJ, FTC & FCC]

It appears that the network neutrality fight now also must be focused on how new TV sets are connected to the Internet.  A narrow, closed universe, of digital lite applications are to be part of the new high definition television universe, according to Variety.  For example, new TV’s connect to a version of the Internet but haven’t been “built for full-fledged Web browsing.”   But these sets “will come pre-installed with targeted applications for specific websites, somewhat like iPhone apps.” [our emphasis]  Some 50 million people are predicted to have these Net-lite sets by 2013.

Variety explains that:  Indeed, apps are seen as the keys to success with Web-enabled TV. There are no plans for a central app store, but analysts say they wouldn’t be surprised to see one. For now manufacturers can “push” new apps onto TVs but viewers can’t add any themselves.  This puts manufacturers in the new position of deciding which sites gain access to their customers’ screens, and there is already talk that they are contemplating selling such access via revenue-sharing deals. 

The Obama Administration has been a strong supporter of network neutrality.  It should challenge this threat to competition and new threat designed to narrow the Internet.  Beyond concerns on openness and content diversity, it’s worth noting that some in the TV industry see the deliver of Internet services via TV’s a way to expand the impact of commercials and ads (since online video ad can’t be fast-forwarded or easily skipped).  These Net-enabled devices also raise important privacy and consumer protection issues.  Notes Variety, “[T]he new technology also could add power to an advertiser’s message, with consumers able to click a link and instantly learn more about a product — and with ads being better targeted based on a person’s viewing and browsing history.”

source:  Television’s killer app: New HD TVs equipped with internet connection.  Chris Morris.  Variety. August 14, 2009.

Google PR Job Goals: “mitigate negative media coverage that might lead to unnecessary regulation”

Google has a job opening for a “Communications Manager, Multiple Focus Areas.”  Here’s an excerpt from the job description:

As a member of the Communications team based at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California you will…devise specific campaigns that establish solid contacts with journalists, face-to-face meetings with commentators and other opinion formers and develop print and web-based materials targeted at a range of different audiences, and counter misinformation and mitigate negative media coverage that might lead to unnecessary regulation or interfere with our business and ability to serve our users in other ways. Managers are very strong writers who can process complex technology issues – through blog posts, FAQs, video scripts and more – and explain them in clear language internally and externally. 

Billy Tauzin, Wheeler dealer for PhRMA lobby and the Two-House MegaDeal Even Hollywood Wouldn’t Make

If you followed the career of Billy Tauzin while he was a power on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, you know that he supported further media & telecommunications deregulation, more media consolidation, and led an effort that would have undermined Internet network neutrality.  Tauzin, now head of the drug industry’s lobbying group PhRMA, recently brokered a sweet deal with the Obama White House on health care reform.  In order to secure support for a national heath care plan from a major industry lobbying group,  the Obama Administration agreed to a plan where drug manufactuers would provide some $80 billion in discounts and subsidies over the next ten years.  But the agreement, in my opinion, leaves the drug industry off the hook.

But here’s the Hollywood connection and why Tauzin’s wheeler-dealer skills have ended up working on behalf of PhRMA.  As Tauzin prepared to retire from Congress,  he sought much greener ($$$$) pastures, including taking over Jack Valenti’s role as head of the Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA.  According to Variety [Jan. 23, 2004], “negotiations between the MPAA and Tauzin had broken down because Tauzin wanted too much compensation. Valenti is one of the highest-paid lobbyists in Washington, pulling in more than $1 million a year, but Tauzin asked for hundreds of thousands of dollars more as well as a residence in both L.A. and New York.  “He was just over-reaching,” one source said.  Tauzin accepted “a more generous offer to become the pharmaceutical industry trade association’s top lobbyist…The offer from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is said to be unprecedented for a Washington trade association. Tauzin currently chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees legislation affecting the telecom and media industries, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.”

In negotiating the deal with the Obama White House to protect the pharmaceutical industry from having to make meaningful contributions to national health care, Tauzin has clearly earned PhARMA’s “more generous offer” that trumped the MPAA.