The introduction of MSN AdCenter will be “so welcome and so needed” a senior analyst from JupiterResearch told delegates at a gathering of industry figures in London this week to mark the launch of digital full-service agency Twentysix London.
The new search platform is currently being tested in France and Singapore and is expected to have a global launch towards the end of 2006.
But despite the continued growth of search marketing as an advertising medium, which travel companies are increasingly relying on alongside traditional above-the-line and online campaigns, industry watchers are looking forward to what could “serious competition” in the marketplace.
JupiterResearch online marketing analyst for Europe, Julian Smith, said: “This will be a good thing for the industry as Google is so powerful.
“This is a new channel that could perhaps improve or better ROI [return on investment] for travel companies.”
Microsoft’s ruthless reputation since winning on a number of key fronts in the early days of the internet, such as its easing out of Netscape in the online browser battle of the late-1990s, is indeed stirring the interest of industry watchers.
“In this case we need them [Microsoft], and no other company could really impact on Google,” Smith said.
Google insiders have been quick to dismiss the impact of AdCenter on search marketing, claiming the beta tests in France have seen “weak” levels of traffic.
In the meantime MSN has remained tight-lipped as to a timetable for a complete, global roll-out of AdCenter.
* Twentysix London is the new name for Incepta Online and its previous digital marketing operation DMD. The full-service agency also carries out ad planning and buying, web design and strategy and counts the likes of Opodo and House of Fraser as clients.
Other speakers at the event included Joanna Holdsworth, UK CRM manager for Opodo, Giles Cuthbert, head of CRM at Cendant International Markets, and Gavin Sinden, director of digital marketing at Twentysix London.
The seminar was chaired by ex-Opodo boss and current non-executive chairman of Worldhotels, David Scowsill.