The Ask Sponsored Listings join MSN and Live Search as distribution sources for Office Live customer search ads.
Microsoft will move a step closer to its stated goal of providing small businesses with an all-inclusive search engine marketing service July 17 when it adds the Ask Sponsored Listings from the Ask.com search engine to its Microsoft Office Live AdManager service.
The move will see the Ask Sponsored Listings join MSN and Live Search as distribution sources for Office Live customer search ads, meaning customers will be able to manage their search advertising campaigns on two of the top five search engines using a single service.
Ask Sponsored Listings is an automated open-auction system that allows search marketers to purchase, manage and optimize pay-per-click and contextual advertising campaigns on Ask.com and its publisher network, while Microsofts AdManager enables small businesses to buy and manage search engine-based keyword advertising directly from the Office Live platform.
The move is another step by Microsoft toward delivering on its overall Office Live vision of an affordable one-stop-shop to address the basic IT and sales and marketing needs of small businesses, Baris Cetinok, the director of product management and marketing for Office Live, told eWEEK.
"We are making keyword advertising simpler for very small businesses by creating a single user interface for those businesses to create and manage their campaigns. We are bringing keyword advertising to the millions of small business who may be intimidated by what is required to set this up under our AdCenter offering or those from other providers," he said.
The Office Live AdManager offering differentiates itself from others in that it is specifically targeted at small businesses, mostly with 10 or less employees, helps them design their campaigns, understand what bidding they need to do and what budget will be sufficient, Cetinok said. They can then, also, see how effective those campaigns have been across multiple search engines, he said.
With regard to its growth strategy, Cetinok said Microsoft will "partner, build or acquire companies that help our small business customers market themselves and sell their products in as many places as possible and that make sense."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently talked about the companys plans to offer "software plus services." Click here to read more.
The addition of Ask.com, which is one of the top five search engines, to the lineup is significant as the Ask Sponsored Listings search advertising network reaches close to 60 million monthly unique users, he said.
Ask.com has also been very active in innovating around search and how it markets its services to customers and consumers, and has a large network that it is empowering with IAC, Cetinok said.
"They are playing a great and unique role in how they have been carving out a marketplace for themselves and how they have been innovating. We are very excited to partner with them," he said.
Next Page: Carving out markets.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.