Microsoft has launched its first paid-search advertising application that offers advertisers information on searchers and their search activity, and the frequency at which keywords have been accessed.

According to Eva Balan, MSN's international marketing manager for MSN adCenter, advertisers pay a one-time subscription fee of S$10 (US$5.97) for MSN Keywords. For each keyword, they bid a minimum of S$0.10 and pay for the number of times search users click on their advertisements, which appear as sponsored links alongside search results. The placement of the links will depend on the bid price, click-through rate as well as the types of user profiles captured by the system.

Speaking at a media briefing here Tuesday, Balan noted that the application helps to "level the playing field" for small and medium-sized businesses which may not have budgets for "flashy campaigns". Besides marketing directly to SMBs, Balan said MSN intends to conduct workshops and engage partner organizations to "educate" them.

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