By Jacqui Cheng | Published: August 21, 2007 – 09:06PM CT
The Content Ads program offers contextually generated ads, which means that it displays ads that match up with other keywords found on a particular page—an article about bears might display ads about bear traps or teddy bears. Up until now, the content offered through the Content Ads program was severely limited, but Microsoft hopes that by opening up the program to all US advertisers, there will be a much wider selection of ads available to the MSN network.
Microsoft is offering its advertisers features like keyword-level pricing, so that advertisers can opt to pay different amounts based on different keywords, and separate content and search bidding, which will allow advertisers to decide whether they want to advertise on search pages, content pages, or both. Microsoft also says that once it expands the program out to more of its properties, ad campaigns will automatically be expanded to include the new sites.
Content Ads are Microsoft’s answer to Google’s AdSense, and many hope that Microsoft’s opening the program up to the public will introduce more meaningful competition in the space. Another major player in the market would offer more choice and hopefully fuel more competition, not only in technology and features, but also in pricing and terms.
Microsoft has been on the warpath recently in an attempt to catch up with Google by rolling out its own user-uploaded video site and, more recently, offering extended online storage options. If the Content Ads program matures past the beta stage and takes off, it could mean major changes to how direct marketing is handled online, and that strikes directly at the heart of Google’s revenue.