Microsoft Ads for Search + Janina G.

Microsoft unveiled a fairly significant ad campaign for Live Search, which includes both online and traditional media (featuring a broad range of newspapers). Here’s a capture of an animated flash banner from YouTube, which is focused on Live Local:

Live Local

The ad copy on the banner reads: “Imagine all the white pages, and all the yellow pages . . . minus the pages. Introducing Live Local.”

Prior ad spending for MSN search failed to help Microsoft gain share. Indeed it has lost share since the launch of MSN search. But the Live product is better and the ads may generate some new usage. While general search behavior is pretty entrenched, Local Search is not. So Microsoft may have an opportunity to introduce some users to Live Local and capture their loyalty.

More interesting is another Microsoft “project,” featuring model/actress Janina Gavankar. She’s “Ms. Dewey,” a “digital librarian” who narrates, makes comic asides while you search. I had seen some writing about this, but John Battelle “outs” this as a Microsoft effort. (It’s also confirmed as a Microsoft initiative on Gavankar’s site: “Gavankar also plays ‘Ms.Dewey’ in Microsoft’s cutting edge interactive search engine,”)

Beyond the fact that Janina, er, Ms. Dewey, is beautiful and somewhat entertaining (watch and you’ll see the full range of “routines”), this effort to marry video with search is quite interesting. First, the search part of the experience is entirely subordinate to Ms. Dewey. It’s not a serious search engine because results are obscured partly by the “set.” But that’s not the point, it’s a test of a concept.

Let’s imagine, instead of Janina G. the actress, an avatar in her role — perhaps you could choose from among several to suit your tastes — who could actually guide you to the right result or help you refine your query. This is the idea behind ChaCha, but its human guides are anonymous and often not as fast as seasoned search-engine users.

As the Internet becomes a richer media environment, it becomes possible to put a search box in all kinds of virtual words, games, Google Earth and so on. There are lots of interesting potential scenarios . . .



One Response to “Microsoft Ads for Search + Janina G.”

  1. :: Mostly about 2.4mR sailing » Blog Archive » Janina Gavankar, ‘digital librarian’ Says:

    […] Sterling introduced Ms. Dewey to his readers today. Gavankar acts for a hokey search site that will amuse you for about three […]

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