free html hit counter MSN AdCenter Gears Up | John Battelle's Search Blog

MSN AdCenter Gears Up

By - October 18, 2005

MsnadcenterMSN’s answer to Yahoo and Google’s ad platform has been a long time coming, but they are finally gearing up here in the US (MSFT launched AdCenter in Singapore and France – an alpha of sorts – earlier in the year). Today marks AdCenter’s pilot launch in the US – you can go here to sign up to be a charter advertiser (no guarantee they will take you…). Microsoft claims to already have 500 folks signed up (word of the recruitment leaked out a week or so ago and here is the site of one of them, JenSense), and I am not surprised. I am sure that advertisers will flock to a well-considered new avenue for search advertising.

No, the question is not “will advertisers want to test AdCenter?” And the question is also not “will Microsoft innovate in massively scaled advertising platforms?” – I think the clear answer there is yes. (Microsoft is offering audience targeting, for example, and what I have been told by many is far more detailed reporting). Advertisers will very much want to try out AdCenter. Why not? If it works, great! If it doesn’t, no harm, no foul, it’s CPC!

The real question, to my mind, is will Microsoft have enough traffic of good intent to satisfy advertisers’ demand – or put another way, will Microsoft get to scale on the traffic side of the equation? To do so, it needs to enter the syndication business. Microsoft needs more than MSN Search traffic if it is going to compete. It has to learn to play nice with others – and partner with the long tail.

Yahoo has already made a play for the long tail with YPN, and Google is king of syndication with AdSense. For now, AdCenter is only available for MSN Search. But if Microsoft is going to truly compete, it has to compete for the rest of the web’s inventory. Of course, it can get a big head start by stealing AOL from Google….either as an acquisition, or just as a deal. As I’ve said before, AOL was the deal that made Google, well, Google, and it was the deal that drove Overture to profitability. Microsoft has plenty of cash, and a very keen desire to win. This is what is fueling all sides in the AOL Poker game.

In any case, I certainly look forward to seeing how folks respond to Microsoft’s entry into the field. And we’ll all be keenly watching how Microsoft competes for traffic of good intent….


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4 thoughts on “MSN AdCenter Gears Up

  1. Yes, MSN will probably start an ad syndicate, since everybody else has one. But remember that ads on non-search sites are always going to be secondary and have dramatically lower ROI for most advertisers.

    What MSN really needs is to incrase its market share of searches. The quality of their results are already almost as good as Google, but of course they need to be notably better to win. And they also need to work on other parts of their search user experience. The search box on search.msn.com continues to be too narrow, month after month (even though it’s the correct width on the main http://www.msn.com page).

  2. Don Dodge says:

    The last chapter has not been written in the search game. Microsoft MSN Search is every bit as good as Google in terms of size, speed, and relevance. Microsoft has come from behind several times before. I wouldn’t bet against them now. MSN Search is just getting started.There are many more decisions to be made. There is a long history of “first movers” being eclipsed by “fast followers”.

    I wrote a blog on this subject. See the whole story here http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2005/10/the_search_an_i.html

  3. Neil Patel says:

    Another good feature about adCenter is that you can target your ad to a specific age or gender group. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

    http://sem.weblogsinc.com/entry/1234000633064085/

  4. Within the next 48 hours, we’ll be releasing our free newsletter for MSN adCenter beta testers. Stay tuned…