A DigitalPoint Forums thread has a member saying he has been beta testing the Microsoft alternative to Google's AdSense program, named ContentAds.
He gave the new contextual ad program, from a publisher's perspective, a great review.
To be honest is was actually pretty sweet. I am not going to talk about any specifics until is goes open beta but I feel it is a huge improvement in certain aspects. I am just waiting until I can take it for a spin on some of my websites to really get a feel for it. I wish MS would just give me a job so I can help them step it up some more. For any platform for content publishers you really need to focus on the filtering and reports. Those are the two area I use the most so the most attention should be paid attention to them. A close third of course is the ad creation process. Watch out for MS, they are not going down without a fight.
But as far as I know, ContentAds is only open to very large and trusted publishers and there is no program for smaller publishers. Back in February 2006, I reported that MSN to Release Contextual Ad Program, ContentAds in 2006. That did happen in October 2006 with Microsoft Begins Testing Content Ads Beta, but it was only open to large publishers and to a limited set of adCenter advertisers to opt in. Microsoft continually expanded the ContentAds availability for advertisers but never really expanded the publisher side of things.
In fact, there was a lot of controversy over adCenter advertisers being forced into the contextual program without requesting their ads to show up on the content network. Next time adCenter was upfront about this change, and last week they announced it again.
So is this just a rumor? I am not sure. I sent out emails to my Microsoft contacts in this area, so we will see. I will update you if I find out more information.
Forum discussion at DigitalPoint Forums.
Update: Microsoft sent me a response that they are currently still only running ContentAds on their own network. They do not have a release date for a public release of ContentAds just yet.