I hate to say I told you so, but in this case, I told you so. Tamar reported on Monday, Microsoft adCenter Using Matching Criteria Other than Keyword Searches to Display Ads. In that, she explained how the terms and conditions are now updated to be more abstract. In the forums, there was a lot of confusion as to why.
I gave Tamar a quote, from myself, with my thoughts behind it saying:
This is not the first time Microsoft automatically added their advertisers to the content network program without their consent. When Microsoft launched their content network they did so by switching their advertisers into the program and then requiring them to opt out after the fact. In this case, I believe it may be similar, in that Microsoft wants to cover themselves by saying they "may" display their ads in other areas and via non-keyword searches (hence the content network and possibly via behavioral targeting methods).
Basically, I thought it was directly related to Microsoft wanting to boost up their content network and make sure they cover themselves on the legal side from their advertisers.
adCenter411, the adCenter representative in the forums, explained that the new text in the terms and conditions "allows you to participate in current and future adCenter services, such as Content Ads." The representative goes on to explain;
As we develop and launch new products, you may need to modify your adCenter account to adjust your participation to your desired level (i.e. turn-off participation, modify bids, etc.). We intend to keep you informed about new ad products or services and any significant changes to your service. For example, as we continue to offer our Content Ads product to new participants, we will email advertisers in advance to notify them about how they may turn-off content advertising.
So at first, content Ads. What can be next? Ads in Microsoft applications, ads in Xbox games, and so on. This keeps things open for Microsoft's online ad strategy. What is that strategy? Well, I recommend ready Keynote Conversation with Steve Berkowitz from last month.