‘Inflection point’: Microsoft’s GM of Global Advertising Business on privacy, ad business growth
In recent years, Microsoft has been looking to diversify and grow its ads business beyond its B2B roots with acquisitions like PromoteIQ and LinkedIn. During the company’s third-quarter earnings call earlier this week, Microsoft reported that LinkedIn had generated $3 billion in advertising revenue in the last business year; per the company, PromoteIQ’s platform has grown 300% year-over-year during the same period with companies like DICK’S Sporting Goods, The Home Depot and Kroger using the platform for digital marketing vendor programs.
Digiday caught up with Steve Sirich, general manager of the global advertising business at Microsoft to hear how the company is pitching advertisers today, how the work-from-home has impacted the company’s ad business and how the company is thinking about the ongoing privacy changes in the industry.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The privacy landscape is changing. Google has its own potential solution with its proposal FLoC. Microsoft recently announced its own with Parakeet. Can you tell us a bit about the thinking?
From an advertiser perspective, we know we’re at this inflection point and that we need to navigate through it and we’re thinking about what this might mean in a privacy-centric world. [We have a] proposal in front of the industry — the World Wide Web Consortium, the W3C — it’s called Parakeet and it’s an acronym for Private Anonymized Requests for Ads that Keep Efficacy and Enhanced Transparency. We believe [Parakeet] improves privacy and works with existing ad tech infrastructure than, for example, what is being pitched by Chrome’s privacy sandbox. The reason for that is that Chrome’s privacy sandbox has the auction happening in the browser, which brings some challenges because it breaks how the ecosystem works and how investments are made in the ad tech stack today.
How does Parakeet differ from FLoC?
We’re trying to drive a balanced solution that returns the action to the ecosystem as it is today. This is possible in our proposal because the browser anonymizes the PII or the personal identifiable information while still passing on the information. In our proposal, the consumers still have control over their data, too. It’s not like they don’t have control but the browser doesn’t function as the auction. The browser anonymizes the information and continues to pass it through the ecosystem as the ecosystem functions today. As I said, consumers have the ability to opt in and out of the cohorts of information based on their comfort level. We’re in the early days of these discussions, of course. I wouldn’t ground it to say this is exactly how Microsoft will function or the Microsoft Edge experience but we’re having discussions with Google, we’re having discussions with lots of publishers as well as advertisers around the efficacy of wanting to keep the ecosystem somewhat intact but wanting to respect the privacy, controls and transparency that we think need to be a part of that.
Ultimately, we’d love to see a solution as we think about the browser experience that’s consistent …read more