DMNews.com has a follow up to the story yesterday's blog post by Andy Beal sparked off, the rumor that Microsoft may be launching its own paid listings program in the near future.
Microsoft Job Pitches Hint at Paid Search Ambitions provides more details about a recruiter working to help MSN "hire pay-per-click account executives, marketing analysts and marketing specialists."
MSN isn't commenting. Comments in Andy's original post have an anonymous person saying MSN is planning something. The DMNews article also highlights an MSN bid management tool called "Moonshot" mentioned in one of the job descriptions.
From what I've read in the job descriptions, I'm still dubious that this activity means we'll see in the near term (two-to-four months) a full-blown self-serve program such as Google and Overture offer. Microsoft has yet to roll its editorial product out the door and live onto the main site. Running a major self-serve program is a huge technical challenge, and it seems likely they'll want to finish fully digesting the editorial project first.
I have no doubt -- none what so ever -- that we will eventually see a full-blown self-serve program come from MSN eventually, as I've written many times before. It's just something I'd expect more likely to happen toward the end of this year.
This activity sounds more like some type of middle ground of trying to help largely clients into an expanded version of what MSN already offers -- and perhaps MSN trying to help those clients manage campaigns outside of MSN.
FYI, any self-serve program that does launch will be the second time MSN has done this. It first had a program back in Feb. 2000. My timeline on MSN developments covers this, plus the hiring, then departure of Overture's former chief technology officer. If anything was a sign MSN wanted to revive its own self-serve program, that hiring was.