This was posted on MSN's Search Blog:
From: Yusuf Mehdi
As you know, we launched MSN adCenter –our next generation advertising platform — in France and Singapore last month. This was an important first step to delivering our global vision to connect advertisers to consumers in a more meaningful way.
Now, as we prepare to launch the US pilot of MSN adCenter, we need your help in getting your friends and family to apply to participate in the self-service offering for small-to-medium businesses . . .
This pilot represents a unique opportunity for small and medium businesses to be among the first to experience the more powerful tools and wide-ranging benefits of MSN adCenter . . .If you know a business-owner who would be interested in advertising their business on MSN Search, please forward this email to them and encourage them to apply to participate in the US Pilot by completing our online registration form at http://advertising.msn.com/adCenterPilot/89620.asp.
Of course, it depends on how one defines "small business" — the U.S. SBA goes up to 500 head count, which ultimately renders the definition meaningless. (Almost 90 percent of SMEs have fewer than four employees, and almost three-fourths have no employees.) But "self-service" and small business have so far been like oil and water. A day is coming when that won't be true. But the offerings need to be much simpler and more dynamic (something like this).
It will be interesting to see what emerges from the pilot in terms of any innovations in self-provisioning.