MSN Betas Shopping Search

Microsoft’s MSN is joining the shopping search fray, beta testing a site that’s an answer to Google’s Froogle, Yahoo Shopping and America Online’s inStore.

Though MSN has long had a Shopping area, the new site, at beta.shopping.msn.com, shifts the focus to shopping search, price comparison, and customer ratings. It’s a path tread by the other portal players, along with sites like Shopping.com and Shopzilla.

“Now that the MSN Search engine has launched we can very quickly innovate on top of it and offer more unique features and services, all in an effort to help consumers find precisely what they’re looking for,” said Justin Osmer, an MSN spokesperson, in a statement. “Shopping, as well as a number of other verticals, is certainly an area…we are looking to expand search into.”

Though other shopping search players work with merchants on a pay-per-click basis, charging them when someone clicks through from the engine, MSN wouldn’t discuss opportunities for marketers on the new site. It also wouldn’t comment on how it goes about ranking results. So far, the company is serving 120 x 30 pixel graphic ads on the front page of the site and on results pages.

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