Microsoft, ComScore partner on digital-ad service

The companies' Reach and Frequency Planner, or RF Planner, will be designed to help advertisers better plan and track digital-ad campaigns.

Digital-ad campaigns have proven stubbornly challenging to plan and track. Microsoft hopes to change that.

The software giant announced on Thursday a new collaboration with consumer measurement firm ComScore to design a digital media-planning service dubbed the Reach and Frequency Planner (RF Planner).

The goal of the RF Planner will be to help brand advertisers better measure and track their online-ad campaigns. Advertisers would be able to more easily determine and predict how consumers will respond to their digital ads.

Microsoft says online advertisers have been stymied by the inability to measure digital-ad campaigns with the same metrics used for offline campaigns. The company points out that ad budgets for brand advertisers account for about two-thirds of the $186 million U.S. ad market. But only 5 percent of those dollars are spent on Internet advertising.

By teaming Microsoft's ad data with demographics from ComScore's research, the companies want to provide advertisers with the same tracking information they would have with an offline campaign.

"The perception that traditional branding metrics are not possible or meaningful for digital media is misguided," said Scott Howe, corporate vice president of the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group at Microsoft. "We believe online advertising won't maximize its appeal to brand marketers until the basic metrics they've relied on for years are available in digital-media plans."

Microsoft said closed beta testing of the RF Planner will start immediately, with a select number of advertisers coming aboard.

Microsoft has been pushing for a greater foothold in the online-ad game. Thanks to Wednesday's agreement with Yahoo , the company gains a bigger chunk of the search market, potentially translating into healthy advertising dollars.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.



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