Microsoft’s adCenter Goes Live.

Today Microsoft announced the roll out of their competitor to Google’s AdWords, a program dubbed “adCenter” – across all U.S. search queries. The annoucement was made on Thursday by CEO Steve Ballmer at the 7th Annual MSN Strategic Account Summit.

MSN executives have been eager to get a piece of the lucrative online advertising market, and with adCenter they seem to have found their answer. For now, adCenter is only shown in US-based search queries, but testing for the UK market is slated to begin in June.

Advertisers are given the ability to bid against eachother for keywords linked to their ads, and pay per click on the ads. Expanding upon what Google offers, adCenter gives its advertisers more control over who will see their ad and when they will see it. Advanced options include the capability of selecting their target audience by geographic location, time of day or week, and to whom the ad will be shown. Advertisers also have the ability to generate reports to track their campaigns.

A credit card is required to sign up for the adCenter service, and upon initial account creation, advertisers are charged a non-refundable $5 fee.

Before adCenter, MSN used Yahoo’s targeted advertising to generate extra revenue. Now they will be going head to head with Yahoo and one of their biggest rivals – Google – who receives the majority of their earnings from online advertising.

The unveiling of adCenter represents the latest in hostilities between MSN and Google. MSN believes that they have an advantage over both Google and Yahoo in that they can more precisely target their users with the ability to choose the time of day or week the ads are run.

To learn more, visit adCenter.

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