Today’s Microsoft adCenter is just Microsoft’s mechanism for advertisers to buy contextual ads on MSN Search (and the Windows Live Search beta), but it took another step on the way to becoming a full-fledged contextual ad competitor to Google and Yahoo by rolling out a new beta. Jennifer Slegg has the story on her blog:
Interested in the Microsoft ContentAds beta? Selected advertisers just received invitations to participate in the new ContentAds pilot, which begins running this fall.
The email invited advertisers received mentioned the various MSN properties than contextually targeted ContentAds would appear on, such as MSN Real Estate and MSN Money, as well as others linked from the main MSN portal. However, it was key noticing the exact text (emphasis mine in the following) and what it means for publishers.
Content Ads is Microsoft’s next product that allows advertisers to place content-targeted, text-based advertisements primarily on Microsoft-owned properties including MSN Money, Real Estate, and many others within the www.msn.com portal.
ContentAds will also be utilizing demographic targeting, geo-targeting and incremental bidding tools for all advertisements as well …
There’s more by following the link, but Slegg’s point is that not only is Microsoft expanding their ad coverage to other MSN properties besides search, but it looks like they might be getting ready to include third party publishers as well. That would truly be getting to bat in the big leagues and one obvious candidate is Facebook, where the recent deal with Microsoft mentioned adCenter prominently. However, since adCenter also has aspirations to handle all of Microsoft’s advertising services including display ads, it may be a red herring for now.