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MSFT's 'Gaze' Eyes Snap.com Territory


Cruising J-Lo on Gaze

Aspiring to compete with technologies like Snap, which lets users preview content by mousing over hyperlinks, Microsoft is preparing an ad-infused offering called Gaze.

Snap delivers "Snap Shots" of web destinations or content, using pop-ups that appear when users hover over hyperlinked text. Users can identify Snap-optimized links by the small Snap favicon perched beside them.

Here is an example of its "MapShot" technology, the fruit of a partnership with Google Maps. The Snap favicon in the originating link is also clearly visible in the bottom right-hand corner:

snapshot-example.jpg

In a blog post (which has since been taken down and replaced), Microsoft's Mario Esposito suggested Gaze will work much the same way, with the addition of contextual advertising that is both "meaningful to user [sic] and related to what the user is reading":

A GazeInLink is clearly distinguished by a unique underline or other decoration that a publisher chooses. A mouse-over, click or by a small icon that sits next to the entity/keyword. When the user places the mouse over a GazeLink, the gadget layer opens with information about the linked entity/keyword. Ads are blended in to the content in a non intrusive way. They're meaningful to user and related to what the user is reading.

Esposito's description was buttressed by a sample screen of Gaze for hyperlinked keyword "Jennifer Lopez" — featured in the upper left-hand side of this post. The pop-up showcases a potpourri of information related to the actress, including images, news and gossip links.

Given how much data appears in such a small space, it is difficult to gauge where the ads are, though sponsorship opportunities are plentiful. A link to People.com, for example, is prominent, and options like "Recent News" will likely guide users to either a Microsoft news page or an affiliate site. A button marked "Share" suggests aspects of Gaze will be embeddable on websites, or shareable via email.

Gaze is under development at Microsoft's adCenter Labs. It wasn't revealed whether users will be able to deactivate it once a site incorporates the offering into their content.

In a blog update, Esposito reports he's "decided to take down the Gaze post until the technology is officially announced."

Users are invited to visit the Gaze subsite on April 15th, presumably when the technology is announced to the public. In the meantime, Esposito asserts "response has been tremendously positive among the users that received an invitation for our beta."

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