Tips and Hints

Microsoft innovation – Media Matrix stats and TiVo commercials

Okay, I apologize for the Microsoft bashing, but this is just way too easy. And fun, too. So they trot out Steve Ballmer today (this is all according to cNet, BTW) to reassure everyone that Microsoft is in complete control of the innovation engine that is going to take the company to new heights.

They even offered up some of their newest technologies to prove the point:

Mehdi also showed two projects from Microsoft Research, where more than 50 researchers are working on new advertising technologies. One effort tries to predict user demographics based on the context of a Web site.

WOW. Predicting the user demographics based on the context of a Web site? How innovative. How spectacular. How … Google.   If I may: The system will analyze your preferences and create a list of available Google Network sites that are popular with that audience. If you select multiple demographics, the AdWords system will look for sites that match all of your preferences. For instance, you might ask the site tool to look for sites popular with users who have children, or for sites popular with men earning a high income. The site tool will then return a list of sites whose audience tends to match those demographic descriptions.

That’s from the Google help page on demographic targeting. Google uses Media Matrix Comscore to do the work that Microsoft is innovating. And here’s the second:

Another project aims to counter a user’s fast-forwarding through commercials by placing a 5-second minicommercial, which plays while the main ad is being fast-forwarded. I remember this one too. This is the technology that is killing Tivo:

Ok, I’m really ticked off at what I just witnessed. I was fast forwarding through some lame movie on Comedy Central, when a big ad for “The Interpreter, coming April 22nd” popped up in the middle of my view, covering a little less than 1/4 of the screen. At first, I thought maybe it was part of the movie (or at least a mistake on the part of Comedy Central), but when it stopped when I went back to normal speed, then started again when I hit fast-forward again, I realized it was the TiVo. Then I remembered reading here about how TiVo would start showing advertisement billboards over fast-forwarded commercials “starting in March.” Well I’ve seen their billboard, and it sucks!

That’s from Google’s cache of a post on the TiVo forum that has since mysteriously disappeared. The reaction to the banner ads on commercial fast-forwarding was hugely and loudly negative. Now Microsoft has invented the same thing.

I have more to say but I need to run and call my broker to buy more Microsoft stock. :-}

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