RealTime IT News

MSN Puts Paid Search on Trial

Microsoft entered the lucrative paid search advertising field to compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo by launching today its own native ad platform in France and Singapore.

MSN adCenter has been in beta testing in France and Singapore since March and includes a bevy of features that MSN claims its competitors do not match.

Karen Redetzki, product manager for MSN, explained to internetnews.com that MSN chose Singapore because the company had no paid search solution in that market at all.

She added that even though Yahoo is in the Singapore market, MSN doesn't have it as a partner in Singapore for Overture. MSN uses Yahoo Overture for paid search advertising in many parts of the world, including the United States.

"We wanted an English-speaking country that was international, as well as a foreign-language country, being France," explained Redetzki.

According to Redetzki, the pilots in Singapore and France went extremely well. The U.S. pilot is expected to begin next month and will resemble those pilots and contain a few additional features, she added, such as lifestyle or psychographics information overlaid on the actual audience intelligence data.

Redetzki said 650 customers, ranging from the smallest to the largest advertisers, will participate in the U.S. pilot. AdCenter's audience intelligence is claimed to allow advertisers to reach consumers based on geography and demographics.

The solution will also enable advertisers to "daypart" effectively by allowing them to specify and target a specific time of day for a campaign rather than be forced to run all the time.

Advertisers will be given suggested keywords gleaned from their Web sites, as well as an audience-profiling tool to help them determine the profiles of users who search on a particular term.

Redetzki said the adCenter solution will provide the audience intelligence before the advertiser buys during a campaign, so they can adjust the campaign as needed and then also in post sales intelligence.

"What advertisers want to be able to do is run a paid search campaign and see a greater return on their investment, as well as be able to report what that ROI was," Redetzki said.

"They want to be able to report up the lines in their company and say, 'this is how it performed. We actually reached our target customer, our desired audience with this campaign and this is what happened.' People aren't able to do that today."

MSN adCenter is initially being billed as a paid search solution, but it isn't necessarily going to stop there.

"Taking it beyond paid search, it's going to be even more exciting," Redetzki said. "What else can this be, how can we leverage this audience intelligence in other places, how can we connect advertisers with their consumers not just online but via TV, over the phone and in different places across Microsoft?"