Escaping the past: Microsoft tried to go head-to-head with the then-pending $3.1 billion Google purchase of DoubleClick in mid-2007, when CEO Steve Ballmer paid $6.1 billion for interactive ad shop aQuantive. In 2012 it wrote off nearly the entire value of that deal, and earlier this year it sold Atlas to close partner Facebook.
Microsoft appears to have learned a lesson from that experience. Its new programmatic push is focused on products and features that bear its logo, Strong said.
"We've given a lot of thought to the different contexts that consumers find themselves in when using Outlook.com or the apps in Windows 8.1 or using Skype," Strong said. "Even within individual products, we've tried to consider every possible experience. For example, someone using Skype might be texting or they might be on a video call. Programmatic just makes it easier to offer ad choices more quickly and efficiently."
Last year, another part of Microsoft's varied offerings took a different stance toward programmatic ads, when the company's Internet Explorer browser its default user position to "opt-out" of behavioral targeting. That position will surely be tested by Microsoft's current efforts, as Strong insisted that "user control" over their data would remain sacrosanct.