Friday, August 3, 2007

Ads coming to Microsoft program near you

I'm devoting time to the following topic because I think it's one of those things that most ad execs (not online ad execs) aren't tuned into: advertising is coming to Microsoft software. The company has said it's going to start testing advertising in Microsoft Works, a stripped-down version of Microsoft Office that usually retails for about $40. The plan is to offer it free on PCs and target ads around the programs. If that sounds icky, it really seems like it will be quite similar to the text ads that appear in the margins on Gmail, and that's the whole point. You may not have noticed that Google has a lot of Microsoft Office type software out there. (One place you see it repeatedly, if you have Gmail, is when it's offered up as an option for downloading attachments.) I've no idea how much traction it has, because most of the documents I receive are already in some type of Microsoft Office and it seems best to stick with the software that created it. But, of course, the software is free as is everything else consumer-facing with Google. It does seem creepy to contemplate ads in your Microsoft Word documents, but I'm amazed—and maybe a little depressed—at now inured we become to advertising, particularly in exchange for something free. Gmail's text ads used to freak me out, but now I barely notice them. For Google, I suppose that's good news and bad.

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