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Microsoft Updates MSN Video Platform

Microsoft is rolling out a new version of its video service across its Web properties -- including a range of fresh ad formats -- to take a larger share of the booming online advertising market. The company will introduce the video capability "horizontally" across its entire MSN network as well as to Windows Live, the personalized Web page users can set up which includes its instant messenger.

Microsoft is also unveiling three new video advertising formats that will work in conjunction with the new video player services. Advertisers will be able to choose pre-rolls -- ads that run before a user watches a piece of video content -- a format that Google decided against when it unveiled its first in-video advertising for YouTube clips. The second format is a large box-like ad that slides out of the side of the video player, and the third is a smaller banner-style advert that drops down from the bottom of the video player.

Microsoft is also introducing a "unit-based" ad delivery system, meaning that ads will only be served when users click to watch their first video and then for every second piece of content viewed. The company is also working on a "time-based" advertising format designed to serve ads at regular intervals while viewers watch clips. Microsoft hopes the new approach will be less intrusive and allow brands to ensure their messages are "immersed" in the consumer video experience.

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