Microsoft Office Live adds Ask Sponsored Listings

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Microsoft Office Live is adding Ask Sponsored Listings to its adManager Beta search advertising service.

This marks the first time in nearly five years that two major search engines are joining together to help small businesses manage their search-engine advertising campaigns.

AdManager allows small businesses to purchase and manage search-based keyword advertising directly from the Microsoft Office Live platform.

Ask Sponsored Listings joins the MSN network and Live Search as distribution sources for Microsoft Office Live customers' search ads.

"By partnering with a variety of search-engine marketing services such as Ask.com's Ask Sponsored Listings, we can help small businesses more efficiently market their business and generate more customers, which is the goal of Office Live," said Baris Cetinok, director of product management and marketing for Microsoft Office, in an e-mail interview.

"Small businesses can now reach two major search engines in one place rather than approaching each one separately," he added.

Many small businesses regard search-engine marketing as a difficult and confusing process. Other search engine companies have just one service for search-engine marketing so small businesses must go through the same processes as midsize and large companies. Office Live will offer various ways for small businesses to easily promote their businesses on the Internet.

Ask Sponsored Listings is an automated, open-auction system that allows search marketers to purchase, manage and optimize pay-per-click and contextual advertising campaigns on the ASL publisher network, including Ask.com.

Because consumers make purchase decisions online, search marketing has emerged as a $15.8 billion market worldwide, and experts expect it to grow to $44.5 billion over the next five years.

Search is the second most used application on the Web, with 550 million searches daily in the United States, according to investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co.

AdManager facilitates the pay-per-click advertising process for small businesses. Once a small business sets up an account with adManager, it can select keywords to create its ads and set its bid amounts.

"By combining two major search engines into one streamlined solution, Microsoft Office Live is making it easier and more convenient for small businesses to take advantage of search marketing," Cetinok added.

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