Microsoft is turning up the heat on rivals AOL and Google with the UK launch of a programmatic video ad network – Microsoft Video Network.
The move means UK advertisers can now buy pre-roll video ads programmatically across MSN and the 350 publisher sites within its network for the first time.
The news follows hot on the heels of a major announcement from AOL, which yesterday revealed its plans to develop a unified programmatic platform which lets advertisers run programmatic ads across all screens including linear TV.
AOL stepped up its video programmatic offering with the acquisition of Adap.tv earlier this year, while YouTube has traded programmatically for some time.
Microsoft Video Network will use in-house data alongside Nielsen, ComScore and other publisher data, to help provide advertisers with in-depth insights into their audience behaviours, with the view to making ad experiences more personally relevant.
Owen Sagness, general manager of Microsoft Advertising & Online UK, said: “Video is a hot topic and programmatic media trading is an area of massive growth for the industry. Over the past six years advertising budgets have significantly moved away from traditional TV and into online video, as audiences migrate to multiscreen and video on demand.
"With the supply and demand model driving efficiency and ROI for brands, automated buying will continue to become more important for advertisers looking to keep up with the consumers’ online behaviour day in, day out.
“We have spent time listening, watching and learning from the industry, and we’re launching a Video Network that features a range of publishers and partners that are specifically chosen to offer the best options for our customers.
"Programmatic media buying is arguably still in its infancy, but over years to come it will continue to become more popular. No longer can manual bidding support demand, as the total number of impressions and consumer outlets continues to grow."
The network, which features frequency capping, has officially launched in the UK today (27 March).