Gates Plugs ‘Seamless Computing’

REDMOND, WASH. Microsoft chairman and chief software engineer Bill Gates spoke of a world where various digital devices, from personal computers and mobile phones to digital cameras and PDAs, work in concert, at the MSN Strategic Account Summit here today.

Not surprisingly, the software giant is investing $6.8 billion in research and development behind what it describes as “seamless computing.” These devices will be “glued together by software,” said Gates.

This connectivity inevitably will have implications for the advertising business, Gates said. “We know that relevancy and interactivity are going to be a big part of the new model.”

Gates concluded the fifth annual, two-day conference with comments directed towards some 500 agency, media and marketing professionals at the Microsoft campus.

Yahoo! chairman and chief executive officer Terry Semel kicked off the day by advising advertisers to buy across an online network, rather than just the home page or one or two verticals, in order to reach their demographic target. He also said that they should purchase more than one network, a practice that has become easier with the standardization of ad units.

Meanwhile, Yusef Mehdi, corporate vice president for MSN Information Services, enticed audience members with a preview of some of this year’s product introductions and upgrades. Among the new offerings: demographic and geographic targeting on the MSN ad platform, an MSN music service and more content partnerships, such as the one struck earlier this week with Major League Baseball.

In a session about branding, Donny Deutsch, chief executive of Interpublic Group’s Deutsch, said agencies stuck in a silo mentality should rethink their positions. “They are still being driven by general advertising and then at some point [the plan] is handed off to the stepchildren. “The tools [on the Web] are going to be different, but the [branding] principles are going to be the same. There’s no clear line. It’s not a vacuum.”