Microsoft is currently rolling out the pilot of its Content Ads program – which will compete with the likes of Google AdSense and Yahoo! Publisher Network. The contextual ad service which will be trialed in the US initially, providing the ability to place text based advertising across Microsoft Network.
AdCenter advertiser’s will have three options available to them if they are selected to be a part of the pilot. According to the Microsoft AdCenter Blog:
Content Ads Choices
This week, some of our U.S. advertisers will receive an e-mail notification that their accounts will be upgraded as part of the adCenter Content Ads pilot program. If you receive this notice, your campaigns will automatically be upgraded to include distribution on content pages within the Microsoft network. Advertisers whose campaigns are upgraded will have control over their campaigns and have the following choices:
- Hybrid: Run your ads on Live Search and content pages using “hybrid” ad groups. Your existing ad groups will automatically be set to display on content pages at your current search ad bid prices. You can also set new bids for your content clicks through the beta site.
- Turn off Content Ads: Within the Ad Group Settings tab, under the
Targeting section, click the Select a distribution method for this ad group
link, and clear the Content check box. You can learn more about this option by
reading our help article.
- Create content-only and search-only ad groups: You can create a unique destination URL or have content-specific ad creative.”
The AdCenter blog goes on to provide a recommended approach for using the new contextual advertising options. No surprises in them recommending the “hybrid option”.
Recommended approach for the Content Ads pilot
We recommend choosing the hybrid approach, as it is an easy way to access our high converting audience on the Microsoft network without having to make any changes. For instance, Microsoft Content Ads are displayed only on MSN published sites, no syndicated sites, delivering the MSN audience to the advertiser. Our network also has an impressive reach-delivering an audience of over 96 million unique visitors a month, 81% of whom purchased online in the past six months (source: Nielsen//NetRatings, Home & Work, January 2006).
Content Ads are displayed around site content chosen by consumers, providing specific targeting ability, and are matched to that content, making the Content Ad relevant to their interests. You can also use our powerful demographic targeting, geo-targeting and incremental bidding tools with Content Ads to help you reach the audience you want.
This pilot is long overdue considering Google and Yahoo! both offering contextual advertising for some time. It’s a necessary move if Microsoft wants to genuinely compete in the advertising market. Considering the average reach of their search engine, advertisers are looking for more exposure and results from their AdCenter advertising efforts, and contextual advertising could be the answer.
If you want to be a part of the trial, you can sign up here to be considered the next time they do a batch of account upgrades