September 26, 2005

Everybody Into The Pool! [1:59 pm]

Microsoft Plans to Sell Search Ads of Its Own

The Microsoft Corporation will unveil today its own system for selling Web advertising as it struggles to compete with Google and Yahoo in the expanding Web search business. The system, to be used by MSN, is meant to improve on those of Microsoft’s rivals by allowing marketers to aim ads on Web search pages to users based on their sex, age or location.

The move is part of Microsoft’s broad response to the threat from Google, which is using its powerful advertising sales network to support an expanding range of free software products and Internet services. Last week, Microsoft announced a broad reorganization that placed MSN in the same group as its Windows operating system, indicating that it saw software delivered over the Internet - and possibly paid for through advertising - as central to its future.

But to offer such advertising-supported services, Microsoft needs to control its own system for selling targeted advertising. Until now, the ads on MSN’s search service have been sold by Yahoo.

[...] “We are very heavy on user privacy,” said Tim Armstrong, the vice president for advertising at Google. “So our way of targeting advertising relies heavily on what we know about the content people are looking for.” He added that Google does take other variables into account, like the time of day and the location of the user, but Google’s technology does this automatically to make the process simpler for the advertiser.

While Google does not currently use personal data to direct placement of its ads, there is nothing in its privacy policy that precludes it from doing so, said Michael Mayzel, a Google spokesman.

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