Microsoft ad sales house targets UK banner sector

LinkExchange, the Microsoft-owned Internet ad sales house, is launching in the UK and aims to become one of the top providers of banner (display) advertising by the end of the year.

Banner ad inventory available on LinkExchange’s UK network will initially be sold alongside traffic on Microsoft-owned Internet service provider and portal MSN UK (www.msn.co.uk). However, LinkExchange has developed tie-ins with rivals in the US to accommodate more flexible selling to major advertisers.

Dr Adrian Vanzyl, international vice-president of LinkExchange, says: “This launch almost doubles the inventory of MSN UK sales team with no promotion, so far, of LinkExchange’s UK service. We will focus is on smaller business and ‘hobbyist’ Website operators, which formerly have not been able to make money available for their own online ads.”

The three-year-old network, which Microsoft bought for $250m (151m) in November last year, offers members the facility to swap banner ads on a two-to-one ratio with other sites on the network to promote their sites elsewhere. In exchange, sites hand over half their available inventory to LinkExchange for sale to major advertisers.

The San Francisco-based company has already established a leading position in the US, according to monthly data generated by online audience monitoring company MediaMetrix. In some months the network has managed to beat AOL and other rivals, and achieve audience reach levels as high as 60 per cent among US Net surfers, says Vanzyl.

Sales staff led by Tom Bowman at MSN will market ad opportunities, while business development manager Perry Blacher takes command of the push to recruit UK sites.

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