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MSN inks another ad deal, with John Hancock

John Hancock agrees to a $7.5 million, two-year package with the software giant's Web network.

Microsoft announced the signing of insurance company John Hancock Mutual Life to a two-year, $7.5 million advertising agreement.

John Hancock becomes the latest multimillion-dollar ad deal for the Redmond, Washington company's network of Web sites. The list features a recent $90 million agreement with credit card lender First USA.

According to Microsoft, John Hancock will serve banners advertising insurance services over the MSN network of Web sites, including the MSN.com Web portal, MSN HomeAdvisor, MSN MoneyCentral, MSN Hotmail, MSNBC, MSBET, and Underwire.

The latest agreement for MSN brings to light Microsoft's gains after folding its Web properties under one MSN-branded umbrella. Companies that have touted "network-based" strategies, as employed by MSN, Lycos, and America Online, have said their marketing efforts are geared towards attracting more advertisers by showing them larger, more diverse audiences.

Though MSN entered the Web portal race late, most analysts have not counted the company out. Rather, some say Microsoft will remain a significant force along with Yahoo and AOL.