Microsoft is putting a stop watch on new video-ads found on the company's Web sites.
Visitors to MSN will see an advertisement prior to watching their first video and then new ads will appear every three minutes after. The ads not only show up in the video player but they also unfold an extended section that is similar to a pop-up ad.
This is a different tact taken by Google's YouTube, which last month began testing an overlay format that appears at the bottom of the screen for 10 seconds before disappearing.
Both companies are trying to figure a way to tip-toe around ads so as not to irk users. Many of Google's customers have complained about the overlay ads calling them a distraction.
Unlike Google, Microsoft continues to offer a so-called preroll, which has been criticized by users and advertising experts. Many studies show that users flee from sites that require them to watch an ad before a video. And instead of a 15-second ad, a length adopted by most Web sites, Microsoft has chosen to go with 30-second spots.
The ads will also appear at Microsoft's video-sharing site, Soapbox.