A Larger Context

Competition is heating up in the contextual search arena, with Microsoft joining Google and Yahoo among the big brands offering the service, Rafat Ali’s Paid Content alerts us. Meanwhile a recent ClickZ article finds that smaller challengers offer advantages in comparison to Google & Yahoo-style context.

Microsoft announced its plans at a March 16 “advertising summit” attended by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Yahoo search President Terry Meisel among others. According to a Microsoft news release, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform division, demonstrated a “pilot program (in paid search that) will begin within the next six months in Singapore and France” and will seek to “provide keyword buyers with in-depth audience intelligence including geographic location, gender, age group, lifestyle segment and time of day.”

Meanwhile the ClickZ article by Hollis Thomases, which came out before the Microsoft announcement, notes that neither Google nor Yahoo give advertisers an easy way to control the dispersal of their ads to the sites that have signed up for their contextual programs. She references an earlier ClickZ piece when she says, “No wonder marketers are still split on contextual advertising effectiveness.”

Thomases then goes on to write: “Enter true, advertiser-controlled pay-per-click (PPC) contextual ads. Networks such as Quigo’s AdSonar Exchange, IndustryBrains, and Kanoodle’s ContextTarget and newly launched LocalTarget, plus smaller providers such as ContextWeb and BidClix all offer advertisers far more control over their contextual ad campaigns and contextual ad dollars. These networks, still in their naissance, address the advertiser’s need for more and better control.”

The piece gives one-pagagraph comparisons and contrasts between these offerings. Publishers and advertisers not already expert on the topic would learn from her summaries, as did I. However, I do not yet know enough about the topic to say whether her list is complete or the comparisons on point. If you have any additional thoughts please post a comment.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media