MSN on its best behavior

Humble pie ranks high on the menu at Microsoft these days. Once feared as the monopolist of personal computing, it now seems less fearsome, even pathetic at times, alongside that ambitious aggregation of algorithms which is Google. But while Microsoft may roaring less frequently, it has not lost its fangs nor the taste for meat. Recently it has been trying to make inroads on the say-dog, sell-dog advertising services offered by Google, Yahoo and others — by adding a browse-dog, buy-dog suggestion engine.

In short, Microsoft has added a behavioral targeting engine to the contextual matching service in its relatively new adCenter — created to compete with Google AdSense. Here is a snippet from a MediaPost article on this development:

“Ellen Siminoff, CEO of search engine marketing firm Efficient Frontier, said that although the targeting features do offer some degree of differentiation, MSN search still has a ways to go before it is competitive with Google and Yahoo.”

It sounds like Microsoft may have a better technical offering but not yet the market penetration to make a difference (would be karma or what?). In a previous story on Microsoft’s advertising efforts, MediaPost notes:

“The key battles will be fought over publishers, not advertisers, said Josh Stylman, managing partner at Reprise Media … (the) challenge will be for them to get that inventory (of online ad space), particularly with Google locking up all the key partnerships.”

Time to market? One out of five Web browsers now regularly visit online classifieds. About 37 percent of those bargain-hunters frequent the 300-plus cities now covered by Craigslist. MediaPost has details. Meanwhile, a Poynter commentary written by a newspaper editor notes that old-fashioned print classifieds eventually delivered more results but a Craigslist query worked faster. Duh! Isn’t that the whole competitive advantage of the online vehicle?

Feds Free Wolf. This happened last week but I forgot to mention that freelance journalist and self-avowed anarchist Josh Wolf got bail. I have mentioned Josh a time or maybe two before.