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Google's ad plans for Silverlight prompt questions for Microsoft

Support for media player gives Google another advertising edge over rival, bloggers say

By Heather Havenstein
August 5, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google Inc. said Tuesday that its DoubleClick subsidiary will begin powering video advertising within Microsoft's Silverlight 2 rich-media player, prompting some observers to question the implications for Microsoft's own online advertising strategy.

Google also announced that NBCOlympics.com will be one of the first Web sites to serve up video ads in Silverlight 2 environments via the DoubleClick In-Stream video advertising tool. That deal will provide new "inventory" for advertisers within 2,500 hours' worth of videos that will run as part of NBC's coverage of the Olympics, Google said.

In-Stream also supports video advertising in Flash and Windows Media Player and in RealMedia players, Google said. Silverlight is Microsoft's intended response to Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash technology.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .Net developer division, said in a statement that the software vendor is pleased to see the investment that DoubleClick has made to take advantage of Silverlight.

But Mashable blogger Don Reisinger said in a post that the Silverlight announcement raises questions about Microsoft's online advertising platform — especially in light of the fact that Google's recent online advertising deal with Yahoo Inc. played a role in the failure of Microsoft's attempted takeover of Yahoo.

"Doesn't it hurt just a little to know that Google is the leader in the Silverlight advertising space before your company has even scratched the surface?" Reisinger wrote in a response to Guthrie's statement. "Surely it would make some sense to take control of the Silverlight advertising space in a big way, wouldn't it? Once again, Google has pulled the wool over Microsoft's eyes and the company is in the dark, circling around, wondering how in the world it'll be able to beat Google on something, anything."

Reisinger added that for Microsoft, watching Google form advertising deals using its technology might turn out to be a catalyst for ramping up its online advertising efforts. And, he said, "if this isn't the catalyst Microsoft needs, I don't know what is."

Microsoft is "not only being boxed out of the advertising space all over the Web, but now it's being boxed out of advertising on its own platform without even harnessing its power to fight back," Reisinger wrote. "Microsoft's very own platform is already being hijacked by its biggest competitor and it better move fast if it doesn't want to be pushed out of that advertising space too."

Arnold Zafra, a blogger at Search Engine Journal, noted in a post that the deal to support Silverlight is part of an ongoing effort by DoubleClick to help its clients maximize their advertising inventories through various types of content on video and mobile channels. But he also questioned the potential fallout on Microsoft's own advertising operations.

"One couldn't help but wonder," Zafra wrote, "why Microsoft is not utilizing Silverlight 2 to serve video ads coming from its advertising inventory." Or, he added, why Microsoft didn't foresee that Silverlight would be a viable avenue for serving up ads.

"Microsoft has so wanted to catch up on Google in terms of its advertising business," Zafra wrote — and yet, he said, here the company is, letting Google use one of its own products against it.

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