We discussed here several times how advertising could be the revenue stream allowing for free software, free music or free video. In an interesting statement, Microsoft highlights how far larger is the advertising opportunity compared to the software one world-wide.

“Our close partnership with the ad community is extremely important to us as we evolve Microsoft from a software company into the world’s largest, most attractive provider of online media through MSN, Windows Live and adCenter,” said Ballmer. “Ad-supported software services are an integral part of Microsoft’s plans to give consumers access to a broader variety of digital media, whenever they want and on whatever device they prefer.”

The debate about software as a service (SaaS) seems to be clearly closed and discussions seem to focus on when rather than if. The question is: what will happen to the $120 billion software revenue? Will it augment the advertising revenue or vanish?

Google realized this a long time ago and provided our industry a clear demonstration on how to succeed in that space. The latest Google acquisition, YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock, grabs more than 50% of the online video market on top of its own 11% i.e. 61% total. With more than 100 million videos played each day, Google now appear to be a solid Web 2.0 broadcaster. The largest national US networks are revisiting their advertising value proposition, bending more to a result oriented proposition than the usual message impression probably responding to the Internet capability.

Another question is whether advertising can be more than just allowing for free stuff. As a matter of fact a good friend of mine, Marc Leprat, started an interesting business recently called imagiin.com, where you can earn money – yes real dollars – if you agree to watch commercials. They’ve been introducing non intrusive Advertising On Demand, more relevant and more effective. Each minute devoted to watch ads will bring you back about 50 cents i.e. $30 an hour. It is already well regarded in the communication industry as imagiin.com made CB News, a major weekly publication in France about communication, cover page. I encourage you to go on imagiin.com and become a member today.

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