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Published: 19 December 2005

Telecom’s XtraMSN hopes to persuade small and medium-sized businesses to advertise online by selling low-cost pay-per-click advertisements alongside results from the website’s search engine.

Xtra has signed up Overture, a subsidiary of web giant Yahoo, to auction off keywords to New Zealand businesses.

Businesses can bid to have their ads displayed on top of or beside natural search results when visitors search on their chosen keywords.

XtraMSN’s head of online, Bernard Hickey, says the site is trying to reach out to smaller companies that can’t afford to buy display ads.

“We think it’s a lucrative area. It’s certainly something we need to add to our catalogue of services for advertisers,” he says. “You can be a start-up business and use paid search.”

MSN provides the search engine, Xtra hosts it and Overture sells the ads. Revenue will be shared between the three.

Businesses bid for advertising space, paying a charge each time someone clicks on their ad.

Minimum bids start at either 10c, 50c or $1 per click, depending on the popularity of the keyword. Some of Overture’s keywords in Australia have fetched as much as A$25 per click.

Google, the most popular search engine in the country, provides a similar service. Searches using XtraMSN run a distant second to Google, according to web analysts Hitwise, but still number 12 million each month.

Businesses will initially have to call a toll-free number to place ads via the company’s Australian call centre. A New Zealand version of the Overture site is expected shortly, allowing businesses to bid for ads online.


First Rate attended the launch, and are excited to see the Overture option now available in New Zealand, through XtraMSN. However the technology that Overture use has a long way to go, before it reaches anywhere near the level of customisation that Google Adwords offers, as does the integration between Overture and XtraMSN.

Currently the Overture system appears to be serving Australian and international ad’s on New Zealand’s XtraMSN which defeats the purpose of this targeted medium.