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Microsoft is to add behavioural targeting features to its adCenter package, according to MediaPost.

The website reported that MSN will analyse the search history and sites visited by users to guess their interests, from which it will create 18 audience segments – allowing advertisers to target ads at individuals within specific groups.

Audience segments analysed by MSN include movie watchers, gamers, parents, new/expecting mums, car buyers, internet power users, researchers and mobile users.

One analyst was cautious about the potential for the new project, and its competitiveness with Yahoo! and Google.

"I think, at some level, it’s good for them to be offering something ahead of others," said Ellen Siminoff, chief executive of search engine marketing company Efficient Frontier. "But they won’t be able to call themselves a leader until they have [a] share closer to what Google and Yahoo! have."

The move is the latest in Microsoft’s efforts to compete with the advertising might of Google and Yahoo!. Recent reports suggested that MSN may soon offer a similar program to Google Ad Sense, allowing its ads to be placed on other users’ sites.