Prediction: Microsoft will NOT move the bulk of its $1 billion in U.S. ad spending to digital by 2010

MediaPost.com and others are reporting that Mich Matthews, senior vice president of Microsoft’s central marketing group, told a group of advertising media strategists, “We’re actually pretty confident that by 2010, the majority of our media mix will shift to digital.” According to the article, “she said the company is simply following its consumers, who are increasingly migrating to the Web and an array of nontraditional outlets for information and entertainment. Plus, Microsoft is attracted to the potentially helpful accountability data that digital marketing can provide.”

No doubt, billions of dollars in marketing and advertising will continue flowing to the web and into digitial marketing — I hope so, I’m in that business — however, there are several reasons to doubt the veracity of Ms. Matthews’ forecast.

1. Microsoft is a digital media business that has staked a big part of its future on generating revenue from advertising. Of course it is going to tout the primacy of digital marketing as the way of the future: it’s their business. It’s how they make money. Matthews was “pitching” — selling a concept — to the media buyers, not just informing them of Microsoft’s plans.

2. You advertise where potential customers are: It makes sense if Microsoft is preaching to its choir to turn inward in their marketing. However, look at the masters of technology consumer advertising — the holy grail folks: Apple. Would you ever hear them say they are leaving TV? Leaving Print? Leaving outdoor advertising? Ride a subway or walk around in Manhattan or New York and experience the power of Apple’s “atom” (vs. digital) advertising. For Microsoft to retreat into a digital only strategy is like hoisting a big white flag and saying, “We surrender to Apple on all battlefields that can’t be controlled with an Internet Explorer browser.”

3. If Microsoft announces they will do something by 2010, it will take until 2013 at the earliest.

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