TechCrunch reports that Microsoft is testing their self-service AdSense/YPN product named Content Ads. The truth is, as TechCrunch said in an update to his post, they have started this pilot earlier this year. I have a post at the Search Engine Roundtable linking to the pilot enrollment form.
Content Ads is still a very exclusive and limited beta test. Google AdSense is widely used by publishers. Yahoo’s Publisher Network follows but is still also in beta and is only accepting US publishers (even after three years in beta), while Microsoft’s Content Ads has been accepting on a very limited basis.
Microsoft told TechCrunch that they intend on expanding their “high quality network and relevant audience gradually and intelligently over time for our advertisers.” Microsoft also hopes to “evaluate customer interest and product performance as we move through the private pilot, but we have no specific launch plans to announce at this time.”
There is no current estimated time for when a full release will be made of the Content Ads program, but I do know many publishers are eager to give it a test run.
Postscript: Microsoft posted a clarification, basically saying the same thing I said above:
Microsoft’s self-serve advertising offering for publishers is still under development and is currently in a private pilot phase, being tested by select publishers who met the participation requirements. The private pilot phase began earlier this year. A private, phased approach allows us to learn more about customer interest in content advertising and provide guidance as to how we can improve the product and deliver the right features required to meet publisher and advertiser needs. It’s our intention to continue to expand our high quality network and relevant audience gradually and intelligently over time for our advertisers. We will evaluate customer interest and product performance as we move through the private pilot, but we have no specific launch plans to announce at this time.