Microsoft Underwhelms With Preview Of Futuristic Ad Technologies

Looking for the next “big thing” from Microsoft’s adCenter Labs? It certainly wasn’t on display at the group’s DemoFest, an annual presentation of next-generation online ad technologies that are in the works.
Here’s what Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) showed off:
What: A tool that provides gift suggestions based on interests, sex, age and price range, based on product-related searches on Live Search.
Problem: The Internet is already littered with gift-suggestion sites.
What: Microsoft Gaze, a gadget that combines relevant information and ads in a pop-up when a visitor hovers over a key word.
Hover over the words “Celine Dion,” for instance, and a gadget pops up that includes both ads as well as links to Celine Dion songs.
Problem: Tests show Gaze extends a user’s time on a Web site by 9 percent— but how much of that time is spent trying to get rid of the pop up?
What: Technology that determines whether a searcher has “local intent.” Example: Type “Dentist in Seattle,” and the results and ads are local.
Problem: Shouldn’t this already exist on Live Search?!
What: DIY tool that generates display ads with logos for “mom and pop advertisers” based on basic information they enter.
Problem: Microsoft is late to the game — Google (NSDQ: GOOG) launched a similar tool in October.
Asked what the demo said about the company’s strategic direction, General Manager Eric Brill said the projects weren’t representative of the work being done at adCenter Labs, noting that 21 projects were also being displayed internally on Wednesday.
Call us crazy, but isn’t the point of a public demo to generate excitement?
“We’re making a lot (of progress). It’s not user-visible but it means the velocity of innovation will go up a lot,” Brill said.