Microsoft Changes Video Ad Tactic

Microsoft Corp. is testing a way to present video advertising that's less annoying to Web surfers.

Instead of forcing MSN Video visitors to watch an ad before every clip, Microsoft now shows one ad before their first video selection. The next ad appears after at least three minutes of viewing -- and it won't interrupt a video midstream.

The change is part of an MSN Video site redesign that went live in the U.S. Wednesday. In a statement, Microsoft said the new tactic lets people channel surf without being interrupted by a commercial every time.

Web media companies and advertising agencies are still looking for effective but unintrusive ways to present advertising with video. In August, Google Inc.'s popular video-sharing site, YouTube, added semitransparent "overlay" ads at the bottom of some video clips.

The Associated Press uses Microsoft's MSN video player to distribute video to its newspaper and broadcast members' Web sites, but MSN's change does not affect the service.