August 17, 2009

Microsoft takes major steps into news business; Advance Publications team to offer local businesses more options

Big news day on news for Microsoft - a new agreement with Advance Internet's network of local sites and indirectly through, which announced its acquisition of EveryBlock, the block-level aggregation of news application.

Ken Doctor wrote about the Advance Internet partnership on Seeking Alpha:, which he says covers all of the private company's newspapers. It means Advance Internet and the newspapers' sales folks will sell into Microsoft Media Network, (Doctor recommends this explanation; here's a link to the Microsoft pubCenter.)

The move expands the growing emphasis that the newspaper sales force can help local firms grow their businesses on the best medium, offering marketing solutions beyond print. It is one more tool for the newspaper sales representatives who became sales consultants - at least in title - at least five years ago.

Doctor - the first to report the agreement - also says the partnership gives Advance access to Microsoft ad technologies such as behavioral targeting and the ability to follow customers as they move about on the web.

He also says the deal means that Advance will replace its Google ads with Microsoft text ads through its paid search and contextual-reading ad products. Doctor also talks about Advance Internet's effort in search engine marketing and what this all means in his post., which is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal, says EveryBlock, which now offers information in 15 cities, will continue as an independent brand. The web-based application lets anyone type in an address, neighborhood or ZIP code to access to public records, news articles and web content.

Knight Foundation funded EveryBlock's first two years , but the Knight News Challenge grant ended in June.

Founder Adrian Holovaty shares his excitement and observation in a blog post. that assures much will stay the same in the microlocal effort. That includes Holovay and the team's five staff members staying in Chicago.

The team began working in July 2007, launched Chicago, New York and San Francisco in January 2008; added Charlotte and Philadelphia six months later; brought up Boston, Seattle, Washington, DC and Los Angeles in August 2008; and Miami-Dade and San Jose in
October 2008. Beta sites for Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Houston. were launched in June 2009.

All good news for Microsoft and I think good news for Advance Internet newspaper sites. Here's hoping it becomes easier for local businesses people reading their local news sites to contact local sales consultants. ( See Advertising wraps Oregonian front page for more on that rant.) Do you think the partnership increases the chances of the * sites getting the EveryBlock application into its sites?)


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