Microsoft offers AdSense 'competitor'

Once again, Microsoft is offering a "me too" offering in its bid to take on Google in the online advertising world, this time a "competitor" to Google's AdSense network, called pubCenter. But pubCenter, like Microsoft's nascent Kumo search engine, is probably too little too late.

CNET reports that like AdSense, Microsoft's pubCenter places content-relevant ads on participating Web sites, with the advertiser and Microsoft sharing the proceeds when readers click on the ads.

The service is in beta, and only in the U.S. at present. But early reviews are positive, The Register reports, with advertisers touting increased ability to control and customize their ads, monitor ad performance and discuss future improvements with other beta testers.

Another good sign is that pubCenter was reportedly created using feedback from several stakeholders, including key members of the Publisher Leadership Council, such as The New York Times, Time, Viacom and IAC.

Unfortunately, all that pre-planning and upfront effort seems to be for naught. pubCenter's planned feature set, like enhanced targeting, measurement and reporting, are all items Google checked off on AdSense long ago.

Microsoft will need to do better, especially considering its current third-place standing in search and the faltering economy. Google is a tough moving target to hit. It's continually tweaking AdSense to make it more profitable. For example, Google just recently rolled out new AdSense features, like behavioral targeting and expanding ads.

Microsoft seems to think it can compete simply by rolling out any offering, nevermind that it offers a far smaller search ad network with what looks like no new attractive features.

Time will tell, but at first blush, pubCenter doesn't seem to be a game-changer. What do you think? Will pubCenter provide any competition to AdSense? Fill out the pubCenter interest form, give it a try and let us know.

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