Ad Age reported this week that WPP’s Martin Sorrell may be negotiating to buy Avenue A/Razorfish from Microsoft. As part of the deal, WPP will offer up its ad serving (read software) business to lessen the sting for Microsoft, which way overpaid for Avenue A.
Having been in advertising and software, I can tell you that this will be a good move for both parties. Software and advertising are two uniquely different businesses. Microsoft people are different from advertising people, digital though they may be. Writing software code is algorithmic. Writing selling prose is orgiastic. The latter practice is left brain, dealing with emotion and inspiration. Coders rely on themselves for answers. Sellers rely on consumers. Culturally, Microsoft and Avenue A never had a chance.
Mr. Ballmer, get our of the digital ad business as fast as you can. Mr. Sorrell, get out of the ad serving business even faster. You’ll both sleep better.