REDMOND, Wash.--On the eve of Microsoft's Advance 08 advertising conference, I thought I would offer up my take on three catch phrases that I expect will come up during the two-day affair.
1. "Search should be more than 10 blue links"
This is Microsoft's typical answer to why it thinks it can still catch Google in search. The truth of the matter is that search is already more than that. There's already product search, image search, blog search, news search, academic search, medical search, and a whole assortment of specialized search types. That said, there are still plenty of times that finding what you want online is still hard.
2. "Engagement mapping"
This is a notion Microsoft has been pitching hard of late. The idea is to get advertisers to think more broadly about where their sales are coming from. The basic idea is that buyers may use search advertising to make that final click, but it is display, TV, newspaper, and other types of advertising that all contribute to that purchase. Microsoft is most interested in trying to get advertisers to spend more on display and less on search. Good luck with that one.
3. One-stop shopping
Here, Microsoft will argue it has the most to offer advertisers because it serves up the broadest range of advertising, including search, display, video, mobile and in-game advertising. That may be true, but again most of the checks are written for that first type and Microsoft is still trailing badly there.
And, then there's the word that we're all actually hoping to hear discussed--Yahoo. I, for one, am prepared to be disappointed.
Although talks have heated up again--and there is plenty of reason to think Yahoo and Microsoft will end up in each other's arms--it's likely to take beyond the close of the conference midday Wednesday for an accord to be struck.
Even if we don't get a breakthrough in Microhoo, I'm sure we'll hear lots of other phrases I haven't thought of, as well as see some new demos of where Microsoft is headed in search. I'll have on-the-spot coverage Tuesday and Wednesday, so check back here frequently.