Search Execs: MSN Must Grow Market Share

MSN's paid search platform offers marketers appealing targeting capabilities, but still needs to significantly grow its traffic. That was the consensus of search marketing executives Wednesday who met with MSN's director of search strategy, David Jakubowski, for a roundtable discussion in New York.

Bill Wise, the CEO of search engine marketing firm Did-It.com, said that the targeting capabilities of adCenter, which are beyond offerings from Google and Yahoo, allow marketers to get a good return on their ad dollar. "Their technology, combined with the quality of their audience, has allowed us to squeeze out a higher ROI."

Wise added that improved targeting is increasingly important to search marketers. "Keyword pricing has gotten so high that it's now all about segmentation," he said.

But compared to competitors, the traffic at MSN Search "has a tendency to dip," said Steve Jacoby, an executive vice president at Sendtraffic. Wise and David Hughes, CEO of The Search Agency, agreed that despite a solid advertising product, MSN remains somewhat lacking in the traffic department.

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Jakubowski said that MSN would soon be kicking off a number of initiatives to promote the search engine to consumers, but the company declined to comment further on upcoming campaigns.

MSN's search market share has been slipping compared to its main rival, Google. comScore Networks reported that MSN Search garnered a 12.5 percent share of search engine traffic last month, down from 15.8 percent in August 2005. Google retains the largest market share, with 44.1 percent of the traffic last month--up from 37.3 percent in August of last year.

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