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Microsoft, comScore Strike Targeting Pact

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Microsoft has entered an exclusive partnership with comScore, which will provide its ad sales team with the ability to target specific consumers of packaged goods products, as well as other consumers who share their characteristics.

The year-long exclusive deal will see Microsoft tap into comScore’s new Audience Advantage platform, which was rolled out earlier this week. Essentially, the arrangement should bolster the targeting capabilities of the Microsoft Media Network; sellers will be able to locate a brand’s actual consumers on the network by marrying offline data from a third-party loyalty-shopping company with online data from comScore (a database of 350,000 anonymous users). That same brand can also theoretically reach a far larger audience of "look alike" consumers—users who share similar traits—on Microsoft’s network using comScore’s audience modeling tools.

The new partnership is specifically designed for the consumer packaged goods category, which is still underrepresented in the online advertising space. Both Campbell Soup Company and Alberto Culver have signed on to use the targeting tools.

“If you sell a certain product to an 18- [to] 34-year-old female demographic, this allows us to get a little bit closer,” said Microsoft Advertising director James Colborn. “This is a tool that can better inform a standard media buy. We can find people who look like your shopping target.”

The new tool should also provide Microsoft a leg up in the competitive and cluttered ad network space. “This is a differentiator,” said Colborn. “We really wanted to be first to market.”

Microsoft’s Audience network has climbed from 15th place to 5th over the past year among comScore’s network rankings, reaching 165.5 million unique users as of December. The network includes inventory on both Microsoft’s own properties and sites owned by major media companies, such as Viacom.

Related: Microsoft-Yahoo Pact Cleared for Takeoff