Press release at PR Newswire announces MSN's new paid-search service, MSN adCenter:

"NEW YORK, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the MSN(R) Information Services & Merchant Platform division, opened the second annual Advertising Week 2005 in New York City by announcing the official launch of adCenter in France and Singapore. adCenter powers a paid-search service from MSN that provides advanced audience intelligence and targeting capabilities to help advertisers improve their return on investment when it comes to paid-search advertising.

The official launch of adCenter in France today and Singapore on Aug. 31 follows successful pilot programs in both countries. U.S. testing of adCenter is set to begin in October."

The same release also provides a high-level description of the service features:

-- Keyword Selection allows advertisers to indicate whom they want to reach based on geographic location, gender, age range, time of day and day of week, and suggests keywords based on the desired audience. -- Site Analyzer assists advertisers by suggesting keywords based on the content of their Web site, rather than on another keyword.

-- Audience Profiler provides advertisers with an expected profile of those customers who are most likely to search for specific keywords.

-- Cost Estimator helps advertisers remain within their budget by estimating rank, traffic and cost per month per keyword.

-- Campaign Optimization allows advertisers to respond quickly and decisively throughout the campaign to easily refine budget allocations and keywords, as well as apply targeting filters such as geographic, demographic and dayparting.

-- Post Sales Audience Intelligence & Reporting provides advertisers with detailed reports on campaign performance and audiences reached including click-through rate, estimated position and spending levels.

The release has only just gone live, so no real reaction to find yet.  In the meantime, there was this speculative thread over at WebmasterWorld running ealier this month, but I'll update this post as I find more hard info.

Update:

27 Sept 2005:

  • Softpedia:

    "Unlike its rivals, Google and Yahoo, Microsoft offers its clients a demographic targeting of the ads. In this way, they will be able to establish their target by choosing the age, sex and local time."

  • ZDNet reports on search ads growth:
"As of June, advertisers had spent $5.8 billion to place ads online this year, a 26 percent increase compared with the first six months of 2004, according to a new report.

This record spending was once again led by ads linked to Web search results, said the Interactive Advertising Bureau, or IAB, which released the report Monday in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Spending on search-related ads reached $2.3 billion, a 27 percent increase compared with the same period last year, the report said.

Overall, search ads accounted for 40 percent of Internet ad sales, in line with last year, the group said. Banner ads and classified listings were the next-biggest ad categories, attracting 20 percent and 18 percent of the spending, respectively."

30 Sept 2005

"While the news media has taken a Microsoft vs. Google ad platform story line, the important implication is somewhat different. Sure, Microsoft sees Google as a major rival, and one with some pretty good ad services for advertisers. But Microsoft's bigger rival, and also Google's, is the offline advertising bucket. Just look at television, where Apple iPod nano spots frequently appear during Prime Time. What Microsoft really wants--and Google, too--is to provide tools so sophisticated, so able to provide advertisers with meaningful and tactical data, that more ad money will go into online buckets."