Microsoft unveils new proposed advertising metric and tool

Last year, after Microsoft bought aQuantive (and after it lost its first alleged bid for Yahoo), Microsoft officials were hot to explain why Web search results should not be viewed as the only or best way to measure online-advertising success. On February 25, Microsoft offered new details on how it plans to make online ad campaigns more trackable.

Last year, after Microsoft bought aQuantive (and after it lost its first alleged bid for Yahoo), Microsoft officials were hot to explain why Web search results should not be viewed as the only or best way to measure online-advertising success.

On February 25, Microsoft gave the ad-measurement system -- to which it formerly referred vaguely as "conversion attribution" -- a new name and a specific launch vehicle.

Microsoft's new proposed ad-measurement metric is now called "Engagement Mapping." And its "Engagement ROI" (return on investment) is a new integrated reporting capability for the Atlas Media Console, one of aQuantive's ad platforms that is now owned by Microsoft.

The beta for Engagement ROI begins on March 1, "with results expected to be available before the end of the second calendar quarter," according to the Softies. The beta will be private. Testers will include a handful of Microsoft's major advertising clients, including Agência Click + UNICA, Best Western International Inc., BKV, Citi Cards, GSD&M Idea City, Ingenuity Media of The Martin Agency, Initiative, McKinney, MEC Interaction, Mindshare Interaction, Monster Worldwide Inc., Neo@Ogilvy, Sprint and World Vision. No word on when the company plans to release the final version of Engagement ROI.

Engagement ROI will take into account "the impact that recency, frequency, size and ad format (such as rich media and video) have on a consumer's online path to action."

The unstated implication: Users don't buy a product because they discovered it via Google search. Instead, people visit a number of different Internet sites before buying. Tracking this behavior is important, as Brian McAndrews, Microsoft's Senior Vice President of Advertising and Publishing Solutions, explained last year, as "the site that gets credit for prompting a user's visit is the one that gets paid for it."

Last year, McAndrews the tracking data would be culled from "individual computers' electronic signatures, not individual people." Microsoft hasn't providedany new specifics as to how it will measure user behavior as part of Engagement ROI or Engagement Mapping.

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