When people on Madison Avenue discuss the creation of an ideal advertising system that will one day enable marketers to figure out the perfect way of delivering their ad messages to the right people, at the right time, and with the right effects, they typically refer to it as a "Holy Grail." They use the ancient mythological reference because, like King Arthur's quest to find the miraculous Christian artifact, the ad industry's mission is generally considered noble but unattainable.
That hasn't stopped countless organizations from trying, but the latest quest isn't being mounted on Madison Avenue, or even Camelot. It's taking place in Bellevue, Wash., where a new generation of advertising executives, software writers and systems integrators are racing to create a utopian advertising system. The company, of course, is Microsoft, and leading the quest is its Sir Galahad, Scott Howe, the executive who last year succeeded Brian McAndrews as head of the company's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group.