With America Online fixed firmly in its sights, Microsoft today launches a $150 million global campaign in support of its newly revamped internet access package, MSN Web.

The $150m is, however, merely the icing on the cake. The ad campaign is backed by a titanic $1 billion support budget covering the cost of marketing, retail partnerships, cross promotions and rebates over the year to come.

The campaign’s primary objective is to hike MSN’s puny share of the global internet access market. Although the software giant currently claims some 3.5 million subscribers, this pales into insignificance alongside AOL’s 25m customers.

MSN Web bundles new and existing web services into Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser package. The downloadable software provides free email, instant messaging and multimedia feeds via Windows Media Player. It also links to third party services such as online shopping, travel and personal finance.

The multimedia campaign through McCann-Erickson, launches today in the US, then rolls out across 33 countries. It is Microsoft’s first integrated global drive for MSN, although it is believed that some radio and promotional work will channelled via local agencies.

News source: Financial Times; CampaignLive (UK)