Microsoft Expands Online Ad Network - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Expands Online Ad Network

Microsoft has begun testing advertisements across two of its Live-branded Internet services and its blogging service.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday said it has begun testing advertisements across two of its Live-branded Internet services, and its blogging service.

The advertisements from 20 companies, including Coca-Cola Brazil, JCPenney Co. Inc. and Monster Worldwide Inc., are being displayed across Microsoft Office Live, a Web site hosting service; Windows Live Mail, a Web mail service; and MSN Spaces, which hosts blogs.

The launch marked the beginning of Microsoft offering advertisers access to the company's online audience through its Live services. Live is the brand name for Microsoft's initiative to offer Web versions of all its software. Office Live and Live Mail are currently in beta.

The display ads are being tested in MSN Spaces in Australia and Italy, the Redmond, Wash., company said. Live Mail ads are running in 10 countries, including the United States. Office Live is carrying display ads only in the United States.

The tests are scheduled to run through the end of the year. The company is also working with 100 other advertisers in nine markets for future ads on Live services.

In releasing software as Web services, Microsoft is looking to take advantage of the booming online advertising market, which rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have tapped so successfully.

U.S. Internet advertising revenues for 2005 soared 30 percent from 2004 to top $12.5 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

This month, Microsoft temporarily let advertisers enroll in the U.S. pilot of AdCenter, an automated system for advertising on MSN Search.

AdCenter, expected to launch this summer, is Microsoft's answer to Google's AdWords, which is the platform for the search engine's multi-billion dollar advertising business. AdCenter is a self-service system that will eventually cover all forms of advertising offered on Microsoft's MSN portal, including branded displays, paid search, email marketing and other services. Microsoft plans to eventually allow MSN advertisers to go beyond a browser and PC to mobile devices and Internet-based television, called IPTV.

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