Microsoft Extends Ad Reach

NEW YORK Microsoft has extended the reach of its ad network through a deal with CNBC.

Under terms of the agreement, Microsoft becomes the exclusive reseller of advertising, both display and text, on CNBC will continue to sell its video ad inventory, which it will package with TV spots, but Microsoft will handle the bulk of the site’s ad inventory, both remnant and premium placements.

The agreement is the latest in a series of deals Microsoft has struck to extend the reach of its ad network beyond its MSN Web portal. Microsoft has similar ad sales agreements in place with Facebook and Digg.

It will extend Microsoft’s reach in the finance and business category. MSN Money drew 20.3 million users worldwide in November, while had a little over 1 million, according to comScore.

NBC is a unit of NBC Universal. NBCU and Microsoft are partners in MSNBC.

“Microsoft is making some significant investments in the ad market and ad technology and a key way we’ll generate returns is getting high-quality Web publishers to adopt our technology and platform,” said Jon Tinter, general manager of online strategy and business development at Microsoft.

The deal also calls for Microsoft to gather data on visitors to in order to target ads to them on Microsoft sites. By the same token, Microsoft plans to run targeted-display advertising on from data it gathers on Microsoft and third-party properties.

Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and Google are all looking to extend their reach by selling ad space on other Web sites. Yahoo!, for instance, has stitched together a network of dozens of newspaper Web sites, while AOL has invested heavily in ad networks like and Tacoda. Google had an early lead on its rivals with its AdSense

The deal is a reunion of sorts for Microsoft. Prior to the relaunch of CNBC a year ago with its own original content, Microsoft’s MSN Money provided most of the Web content for the business news network and hosted it on its portal for five years. While MSN Money and both compete for finance-related traffic, a CNBC representative said it did not view Microsoft as a competitor.

“We look at Microsoft as giving us the ability to come up with creative advertising solutions,” the rep said, citing Microsoft’s behavioral-targeting technology.

Microsoft will begin showing contextual advertising on the site this month and display ads next March.