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MSN confirms paid-search listings trials

Microsoft has confirmed for the first time that it is trialing a paid-search advertising service to help it compete with Google and eventually replace its partnership with rival Yahoo!.

However, the service is hoped to form only the first component of an ad management platform, labelled adCenter, that will eventually enable marketers to run all their digital marketing on MSN through a desktop-based ad management system, including banner, rich media and email campaigns.

Microsoft's online arm MSN will trial the paid-search service as a prototype in France and Singapore for six months and will gauge feedback before rolling it out to other territories. In the meantime, MSN will continue its partnership with Yahoo! paid-for search subsidiary Overture, now called Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions in the US.

Matt Whittingham, MSN UK head of information services, explained that, for large clients, the MSN sales team would continue to oversee and manage campaigns. However, for some brands and agencies, using adCenter would help them gauge the performance and adapt their digital campaigns through one system.

"The aim in time is that you will be able to run display campaigns alongside keyword campaigns from one system rather than two or three," he said.

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