Microsoft has added the ability for subscribers of its Office Live small-business hosted service to purchase paid-search advertising from Ask.com from directly within the service.
Now small businesses using the Office Live service can use the adManager feature of the product, which is in beta, to purchase search-based keyword advertising from Ask Sponsored Listings, Microsoft said. Customers already can purchase paid-search advertising from the Microsoft's MSN network and Live Search from within the product.
Ask Sponsored Listings is an automated, open-auction system that allows for the purchase and management of pay-per-click and contextual advertising campaigns a publisher network that includes Ask.com. According to the site, 48,000 advertisers use the system to bid on more than 25 million keywords.
Last week at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Denver, a company manager said Microsoft would begin in the next two months adding the ability to purchase ads for third-party search engines to Office Live, which gives small businesses tools for building a Web site as well as Web-based e-mail, instant messaging, collaboration and customer relationship management. Ask.com is the first such partnership.
Microsoft unveiled Office Live in November 2005 as part of a broad strategy to offer more hosted and Web-based services, and the company has high hopes for the offering. Last week at the WPC, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner said last week that the company expects it to eventually become on of its top-selling products, ranking near the top of the heap with the Windows client OS and Office desktop suite.