Microsoft (Finally) Brings Contextual Ad Program Out Of Beta

imageMicrosoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is fully releasing its Content Ads product, the company’s contextual ad serving system, ClickZ reports. The company has been positioning Content Ads, which was began beta tests in Aug. 2007, as its answer to Google’s dominant AdSense program. But since online advertising has been battered along with the rest of the ad industry, the Microsoft service probably would have had more impact if it had released this product a year ago. And while Microsoft recently lost its exclusive ad sales arrangement with Digg, it still handles a portion of the social news site’s remnant inventory, along with other highly trafficked sites like WSJ.com and FoxSports. More after the jump

Marketers will be able to place ads tied to keywords on up 1,000 sites in Microsoft’s network. The full version of the Content Ads program also comes with analytics that will show the performance of individual sites that the ads appear in. Brian Boland, director of search and media with Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group tells Clickz that so far, that its Content Ads have been particularly appealing to financial services companies, though he didn’t appear to present any specifics.

As for Microsoft’s Windows branding activities, AdAge cities data from BrandIndex the company’s Laptop Hunters campaign against Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) appears to have raised the Redmond company’s “value perception” versus its rival.

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