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Microsoft Adds 20 Advertising Clients

Microsoft Corp. said Sunday it has added 20 new advertising clients since the acquisition of online ad company aQuantive closed six weeks ago.

The software maker also announced it has signed a new advertising-related deal with The Associated Press' Online Video Network.

Microsoft said SmartBrief, Reunion.com and Entrepreneur.com are among the sites that have signed on to use Web advertising management tools it acquired when it bought aQuantive.

The Redmond-based company added that IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s CollegeHumor.com and two other sites now use aQuantive's Atlas AdManager, technology that lets Web publishers schedule and target display advertising campaigns. IAC signed on with aQuantive in July.

Karl Siebrecht, president of the Atlas business, said aQuantive's display advertising technology was "suffering from a lack of visibility" before the Microsoft buyout.

Siebrecht would not name any other new customers but said the wins are "a great proof point that this capability is very valuable relative to other options in the marketplace." Siebrecht was referring to DoubleClick, a dominant online advertising company that is in the process of being acquired by Google Inc.

Separately, Microsoft said its online ad tools have been incorporated into the Web video service that The Associated Press sells to 1,800 newspapers, radio stations and TV affiliates around the country.

The AP, a not-for-profit cooperative, already uses Microsoft's MSN video player to distribute video to its members' Web sites and allows those local media outlets to add their own video. Currently, Microsoft places ads in front of both AP video and the local segments, and the AP, Microsoft and the member split the advertising revenue.

Under the new deal, the local news outlet will be able to use the Atlas ad management tools to sell advertising space against their own videos and keep all the ad revenue.

The news outlet will pay the AP $750 to set up the new service and will be asked to meet certain Web traffic goals each month, said Jessica Hawk, director of the AP Online Video Network. The new service is being tested by a handful of media outlets now and will go live in early October.

Hawk said the deal was sealed before Microsoft acquired aQuantive, and that the AP will be the first line of technical support for the new service.

"The long-term strategy here is really getting into the syndication space," Hawk said. Although the AP won't get a cut of the local ad revenue, Hawk said she sees this as a necessary step toward keeping the most savvy media outlets interested in the AP's video offerings. In the next phase of the online video service, Hawk said the AP plans to let local media around the country share their video.

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