Steve Ballmer recently got a lot of ink for declaring that Microsoft has the advertising business squarely in its sights. Microsoft would see at least 25% of its revenues from advertising within a few years, he declared.
Let’s put that one in perspective. Microsoft is currently a $51 billion business. Twenty five percent of that is nearly $13 billion. Given that he’s talking about a few years out, with current annual revenue growth rates, one can safely assume that’d be 25% of around $65 billion, or more like $16 billion. That’s two and a half times Yahoo’s current size, and north of where Google will probably end up this year.
The big question is: How? Ads on Office Live? Acquiring new inventory? Developing AdSense 2.0? These are the questions I plan to ask Brian McAndrews, the newly minted chief of Microsoft’s advertising business, at Web 2 next week. Joining him on stage will be James Bilefiled, of OpenAds, Curt Viebranz, the Tacoda chief who was recently named head of AOL’s advertising business, and David Karnstedt, SVP of sales at Yahoo. Each of these leaders see the same opportunity as Ballmer – the half trillion dollar advertising business is going digital – and each are charged with delivering on it.
It promises to be a robust discussion.
So what would you all ask the panel?