REDMOND, Washington: "Pssssst! Wanna swap your dinky ad-serving technology for a glitzy digital ad agency?" Microsoft has reportedly asked WPP Group.
According to a news item in Advertising Age, an ongoing dialog between the two titans could lead to the exchange of Microsoft's Avenue A/Razorfish cybershop for the ad-serving technology WPP acquired when it bought 24/7 Real Media.
AA/Razorfish has never sat easily in the Microsoft camp, acquired as part of the baggage that came with the software giant's $5.9bn acquisition last year of aQuantive.
WPP is in a similar position with its Open AdStream ad-serving tool, which online publishers use to display web ads - technology that arrived alongside its $649m purchase of 24/7RM.
A swap (probably sweetened with cash) could result in a highly convenient deal for both parties: Microsoft has much to gain from Open AdStream which would bolster its position in the online display ad serving market – to some extent atoning for its failure to land Yahoo.
And WPP's global digital offering would present a hairier chest with the acquisition of AA/Razorfish. Meantime, eagle-eyed geeks giving the once-over to Microsoft's latest web browser Internet Explorer 8 beta-version, have noticed the introduction of a potential Google-zapping feature which wipes all details of a user's web activity after logging-off.
It is said not to be dissimilar to Apple's Private Browsing feature. Could it also be the equivalent of a web-supremacy tie-break?
Data sourced from AdAge.com and Guardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff