Nielsen: Microsoft Pays The Most Right Now To Promote Its Products; Tech Ads Jump 30% To $723M In Q1, MSFT Jumps 200%

Microsoft has not been shy in the past to spend its money on advertising its products against competition — in 2011 apparently sinking up to $100 million on making sure that people knew about its search engine Bing. Some numbers out today from Nielsen, however, point to Microsoft’s efforts reaching a new high in tech advertising. It says that in Q1, Microsoft took the lead as the biggest tech advertiser of all, knocking out Intuit, the tax software company that has held that position for the past five years because of how Q1 coincides with tax season. Others in the top-five included Apple, Google and Amazon, “none of which were strangers to the top tech advertisers list in previous years.”

Overall tech advertising is growing at a fast clip, up 30% over last year to $723 million for Q1, in contrast to overall ad spend being down 1% for the period. Within that, Microsoft outperformed, to say the least: its spend was up 200% over the same period last year.

Nielsen doesn’t break out how much of that is down to Microsoft specifically, but points out the many products that the company has been pushing hard in the last several months: from Windows Phone on smartphones to Windows 8 for desktop and tablet devices and the Surface tablet as its latest foray into hardware. (And that’s before factoring in ad campaigns like Scroogled based on attacking specific products.)

Nielsen notes that it includes “hardware and software products including but not limited to cameras and photographic supplies, computers, handheld music players, stereo systems, and others” in the tech category. Technology is “mutually exclusive of the telecom product category,” with mobile carriers therefore left out of the mix.

“Technology has become so widely available that it pervades every aspect of life to some degree,” writes Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions for Nielsen. “But with increased accessibility comes increased competition, and companies are investing hefty sums into creating buzz around their biggest products in order to secure a share of this sizable market.”

Indeed, when you think about it, Microsoft topping the list of tech ad spenders is not too much of a surprise: pumping huge amounts of money into promoting new products is less about celebrating Microsoft’s success as it is about the company trying very hard to get more consumers behind them.

Windows Phone has had lackluster, if growing, sales; the Surface tablet has not been meeting analysts’ predictions on sales, and ditto with Windows 8. You could argue that factors like these have had as much to do with Microsoft’s massive regorganization as its rosier spin of looking to a bright future.