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Microsoft AdCenter Labs Online Advertising Breakthroughs
Microsoft adCenter Labs is dedicated to developing cutting-edge new ways for consumers and advertisers to connect.

January 2007

Formed in 2006, Microsoft® adCenter Labs combines the talents of more than 120 top researchers and engineers, all dedicated to developing cutting-edge new ways for consumers and advertisers to connect. These researchers work at Microsoft Corp. facilities in Redmond, Wash., and Beijing across a broad range of technology areas, including data mining, information retrieval, statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, auction theory, visual computing and digital media.

AdCenter Labs researchers are working on more than 60 online marketing tools and technologies, which are at various stages of development, testing and integration into Microsoft advertising products and services. These tools and technologies include breakthrough innovations in the following areas:

Video-Display Ads

Online video provides advertisers with a powerful medium to connect with consumers, particularly when the video includes interactive and other advanced technology.

Social video sharing. This tool allows users to highlight and comment on a specific area of a video frame. This enables consumers to have meaningful social interactions around specific things in the video, such as being able to discuss how a goalie just blocked a soccer goal, or ask questions about a step in a cooking instruction.

How it works. It uses Javascript to implement the highlighting and commenting steps. It also allows for authentication using Windows Live™ ID, so users can choose to view comments from their friends only.

Benefits, advantage. Other online video sites do not allow labeling on a specific area of a frame, but users of adCenter Labs’ tool can. This allows a new level of interaction between users.

Current status. A demonstration is available at

Video hyperlinks. The first stand-alone product developed by adCenter Labs, this tool lets marketers embed video hyperlinks within online video ads. The hyperlinks, which can be associated with specific products in the video, take consumers to Web sites where they can obtain additional information about products or purchase them.

How it works. A computer-vision algorithm tracks selected objects as they appear in key frames of the video. An array of information, including text, graphics and links to Web sites, can be assigned to each object.

Benefits, advantages. An interactive video experience made easy by adCenter Labs’ authoring tool can dramatically reduce the time necessary to generate the digital tracking and information file through use of computer-vision algorithms.

Current status. A pilot ad for a national retailer is slated to appear in spring 2007. A demonstration is available at

Large display feedback. Vision-based technology creates interactive public displays that consumers can remotely control. The technology also can measure the size of the audience and estimate demographics.

How it works. A computer-vision algorithm tracks the hand movements of people from a large video screen. By moving their hands in the air, people can control what happens on the screen. Face-detection and machine-learning algorithms count the number of people in the audience and predict the gender.  

Benefits, advantages. Advertisers can engage consumers in public locations, as well as get a sense of the number and types of people who have seen their ads in public locations where such measurements have previously been difficult or impossible.

Current status. A demonstration is not available at this time.

Keyword Optimization

Keyword technology is vital to paid-search and content ads, allowing advertisers to reach consumers who are interested in their products and services based on the terms they enter into online search tools.

Commercial intent detection. Advanced keyword analysis helps differentiate consumers who are looking to make an online purchase from those who are only searching for information about products.

How it works. An algorithm analyzes the terms that consumers type into the search engine and compares queries typically used by online shoppers with those used by people who are only looking for information but not shopping. The tool then generates a score that estimates how likely consumers are to make purchases online. For example, the term “LCD monitor” carries commercial intention of 0.74 out of a possible 1.0. The same type of analysis is done on Web sites to help ensure the Web sites presented to users match their intention.

Benefits, advantages. It is designed to improve the relevance of search results and help advertisers optimize their messages and campaign strategies.

Current status. A demonstration is available at

Query entity detection. adCenter technology is designed to detect the best way to break down a multiword query. For instance, if a user searches for “real estate agent,” adCenter Labs’ tool can tell that the “real estate” is one phrase and “agent” is another. This technology helps to determine the meaning of a query term so the relevance of search results can be improved.

How it works. The algorithm analyzes the relationship between words in a search term and decides the best way to break it down.

Benefits, advantages. Many search engines treat query terms as a collection of single terms, often missing the information contained in a multiword phrase. adCenter Labs’ technology can detect that “real estate” is one entity and treat it as such when searching for the most relevant results.

Current status. A demonstration is available at

Keyword service platform. This server product provides a set of services that can be built into Web applications to analyze keywords.

How it works. AdCenter Labs provides a set of application programming interfaces for Microsoft and, eventually, for third-party search engine marketers designed to more effectively suggest, categorize, monetize and forecast traffic and extract keyword terms.

Benefits, advantages. The individual services can be combined in different ways to suit the needs of different developers and advertisers.

Current status. A demonstration is available at

Contextual advertising. AdCenter Labs’ technology classifies Web sites and keywords into hierarchical taxonomy. This helps increase the relevance of contextual ads by making sure the categories of publisher sites are relevant to advertisers’ products and services.

How it works. An algorithm analyzes the content of a Web page and presents ads with related categories.

Benefits, advantages. adCenter Labs’ categorization technology enables a new paradigm in online advertising that is based on “concepts” instead of keywords. Many advertisers need to manage campaigns with hundreds of thousands of keywords to maximize the reach to their consumer audience. Concept-based advertising is designed to significantly simplify the work of advertisers and their agencies.

Current status. A demonstration is not available at this time.

Consumer Orientation

The placement of online advertising must factor in the tendencies and tastes of different consumers audiences.

Sensitive content detection. This technology helps determine whether a Web page contains content that the general public might consider objectionable, such as pornography, crime or terrorism.

How it works. An algorithm analyzes the content on a page to determine whether the page contains objectionable content.

Benefits, advantages. Advertisers can avoid associations with objectionable content and delivering commercial messages in inappropriate contexts. This can also improve users’ search experiences to help ensure they are sufficiently warned regarding the content of a Web page they are about to visit.

Current status. A demonstration is available at

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