If you still use Hotmail, and I am one of those rare individuals, then you’ll soon be seeing a change in the ads displayed alongside your email.
Microsoft is replacing the banner adverts in Hotmail with deals. They’re still ads, but rather than those non-targeted, obtrusive, and rather lame display ads, the new deal ads will be more relevant and interesting to users. Or at least that’s the general idea.
Deals are big business, with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial sending out mass emails every day promoting businesses by offering one-time-only deals for consumers. As these deals are coming in via email, it makes sense for Microsoft to make them part of the email service itself.
The deals in Hotmail will be formed primarily of Bing Deals and MSN Offers. According to Marketing Land, this is currently being tested as a pilot scheme to guage customer reactions. So don’t be surprised if you keep seeing the traditional ads for some time to come. Possibly forever.
You may think this is no big deal (pardon the pun) and of no consequence to you. But it’s estimated that between them Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft make around $1 billion each year from the ads clogging up your online email services. That’s $1 billion from those rubbish ads that I cannot quite believe anyone would click on. But clearly they do. And in vast numbers.
Hotmail was once the darling of Web mail services, but it’s faced tough competition from Google’s Gmail and currently sits in a lowly third place behind it and market leader Yahoo, which remains in first place, inconceivably. At least in the U.S. I’m not sure whether this initiative will be enough to persuade people to shift their allegiances Microsoft’s way, but I very much doubt it. Still, it certainly won’t hurt.