MSN adCenter Moves Out of Testing

MSN has officially taken the lid off its paid search service in France and Singapore, with plans to launch a pilot in the United States next month. The program, known as adCenter, had been in testing since March in the two countries and launched in Singapore on August 31.

The new method of selling advertising will be used across MSN's search pages initially, company officials said. However, the content provider expects to use adCenter across other web properties in the future.

adCenter will allow advertisers to direct their promotions towards specific demographics. Ad targerting will be based on data collected from other MSN properties, however MSN has maintained any information provided to advertisers will be generic in nature.

The system will also recommend keywords on which to place ads based on the type of customer the advertiser is looking for. Such a featurewould prove useful in the event MSN has no information on the visitor, thus ensuring the best possible performance of an ad campaign.

Google and Yahoo do not provide targeting by demographic, and MSN hopes the approach will entice companies to place their ads on the service. "We're excited by the positive feedback we have received from advertisers thus far," MSN chief Yusuf Mehdi said.

Other features of adCenter include a site analyzer that suggests keywords based on site content; audience profiler that gives advertisers an idea of the demographics of people searching for a specific keyword; and detailed reports on ad campaign performance.

It is unclear what will happen to Yahoo search ads, which MSN has a contract to run through 2006. In March, Microsoft said that it remained "committed to working with Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and will continue to collaborate with it."

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