‘Like an open marriage’: Microsoft recasts Mi9 relationship with Nine

Microsoft says its new relationship with Nine Entertainment Co’s digital arm Mi9 is comparable to an “open marriage” after the Australian free-to-air broadcaster bought out its partner in the digital venture.

Nine last year took full control of Mi9, which is the operator of news service ninemsn老域名出售.au, from Microsoft.

As part of the deal, Mi9 continued to sell advertising on Microsoft products, while using the global software manufacturer’s technology and data.

Nine was restricted in the use of its online content and ability to strike other digital partnerships when the joint venture existed.

“I don’t think our marriage has ended. It has just changed forms,” said Axel Steinman, Microsoft advertising and online vice president of emerging markets.

“It is more like an open marriage now.”

Nine moved quickly after the buyout, establishing online news service the Daily Mail Australia with the Daily Mail & General Trust, as well as data company Tipstone with Roy Morgan Research.

Mi9 chief executive Mark Britt said the advertising sales proposition of ninemsn and Microsoft products provided scale for marketers at a time of increasing media fragmentation.

“That proposition hasn’t changed because of the change of the corporate structure,” he said.

Mr Steinman said Microsoft, traditionally a software manufacturer, was more committed to advertising than ever before.

The company has more than a billion users across its different devices and services, which includes the Windows operating system, Xbox gaming console and MSN news website, he said.

Microsoft is targeting the multitude of different digital devices and services that people use on a daily basis to better engage with consumers.

“Our strategy is to be in many moments in that digital day in many devices and services,” Mr Steinman said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The company would seek to target consumers through relevant but non-intrusive advertising, he said.

“The digital advertising industry needs a lot of improvement,” he said.

“We have plenty of research that shows consumers are starting to be very concerned about people reading their emails to target them with advertising.”

The author travelled to Cannes as a guest of Mi9.

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