Microsoft Extends adCenter Content Network

As I posted earlier this month in the SEW Blog, Microsoft is quietly building out their PPC Content Network, starting with premium financial publishers.

Today they announced another move in this direction: Content ads will appear on Wall Street Journal digital sites – a huge coup.

Here’s Microsoft’s announcement – together with tips for using their Content network. last year I interviewed Microsoft execs about their Content matching algorithm, and they told me theirs works differently than Google’s and Yahoo’s. There’s some evidence of that below – apparently separate keyword bids affect the placement of Content ads. We’ll follow up to get more info from Microsoft, and I’ll write about it in the Content Advertising column.


Microsoft and Wall Street Journal Digital Network team up on contextual and paid search advertising

We’re pleased to announce that on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, Microsoft and The Wall Street Journal Digital Network reached an agreement in which Microsoft will become the exclusive provider of contextual and paid search ads for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network (WSJDN), which includes,,, along with other sites.

WSJDN reaches a savvy worldwide audience of over 20 million unique users and serves over 330 million page views per month on its sites specific to the highly sought-after financial services audience for advertisers.

This agreement marks an exciting increase in reach and relevance for adCenter customers bidding on financial services keywords – you asked for more volume, now you got it! Contextual advertising will automatically begin on the WSJDN starting in February 2008. If you are already an adCenter customer who is opted in to Content Ads, your ads will automatically be extended to the WSJDN at that time. Timing for Paid Search advertising on WSJDN is still being determined.

More about Microsoft Content Ads Beta

For those of you new to Microsoft Content Ads Beta, it’s an advertising offering available in the U.S. that places content-targeted advertisements on relevant web pages, delivering relevant ads to the right people at the right time on the quality Microsoft network, giving you better control over distribution and budget. Microsoft Content Ads is the perfect opportunity to potentially increase your adCenter impressions and clicks as we expand our network of participating sites.

If you’re not using Content Ads, now’s the perfect time to start, so you can reach financially-minded consumers on top sites like, msn money,,, etc.

WSJDN, along with our strong audience on MSN Money and syndicated partners such as and EDGAR Online, makes the extended Microsoft network one of the largest financial vertical networks for advertisers.

If you are currently using Content Ads, be sure to keep an eye on your budget to allow for any additional clicks you may see from the WSJDN inventory increase.

Content Ads benefits include:


  • Easily extend your Microsoft adCenter search campaigns to the Microsoft content network.
  • Manage your campaigns with distribution and pricing controls.


  • Access to more clicks via technology that delivers relevant ads at the right time.
  • All of the targeting features of adCenter search are available to help you connect better with your customers.


  • Exclusive availability to highly-valued content pages on the Microsoft network.

How adCenter delivers a relevant ad

Leveraging years of Microsoft research and technology, adCenter analyzes the content of a webpage to determine its meaning and then matches relevant keyword-targeted ads to display on the webpage.

For example, if you visit a webpage about travelling in the Cascade mountain range, our technology knows that it’s not a page about waterfalls or soap. The result? You get relevant ads delivered on relevant web pages.

How to control your Content Ads

Distribution Control: You can choose between Hybrid ad groups or Content-Only and Search-Only ad groups.

  • Hybrid ad groups – this default setting is just a click away allowing you to run the same ads on both Live Search and content pages.
  • Content and Search ad groups – this allows you to create a unique destination URL or have content-specific ad creative for each type of campaign.

Pricing Control: Content Ads uses the same bid structure as Search Ads. You can set different bid prices for content clicks by using the Advanced Bidding function at both the ad group and keyword level.

Reporting Control: Advanced reporting features allow you to see exactly how their ads are performing by distribution channel so they can make necessary adjustments.

The Content Ads network


Content Ads are text ads displayed next to relevant content on quality Microsoft-owned websites, such as MSN Money, MSN Entertainment, and Fox Sports as well as participating partner Web sites such as the newly announced WSJDN which includes,,, and other sites. Now you can list your business on MSN’s high traffic editorial pages – ad space that was exclusively reserved for limited advertisers.

Content Ads tips – get more out of your Content Ads campaigns by:

  • Increasing your bids: start with competitive bids to position your ad to appear. You can then use conversion tracking to understand how traffic converts with your products/services and adjust your bids as needed.
  • Monitoring your ROI with conversion tracking: tracking your ROI with adCenter conversion tracking allows you to regulate competitive bidding and adjust your bids as needed.
  • Writing compelling ad copy: Since users are not actively searching for products or services during a contextual ad experience, ad copy should be customized to attract a more passive audience.

Content Ads resources