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Yahoo unveils beta of blog ad network

Geared for small and medium-size Web publishers, the network challenges a Google stronghold.

Yahoo on Wednesday debuted the beta version of an advertising network tailored for small and medium-size Web publishers.

As earlier reported, the service is designed to let publishers access Yahoo's ad products and content through a self-serve platform. The company said the beta offering will be available in the U.S. only through invitation.

With this move, Yahoo is entering a territory that has been dominated by rival Google, which provides text-only ads to small content sites, including blogs.

One of the products in Yahoo's beta is Content Match, which allows publishers to place contextually relevant listings on their sites and receive a part of the revenue generated by them. Another feature, "Add to My Yahoo," is designed to let them promote and distribute their content on Yahoo via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to drive traffic to their sites.

A new feature in the beta is Y!Q, another contextual search offering intended to help Webmasters enhance the "stickiness" of their sites by providing visitors with related search results overlaid directly on their Web sites, the company said.

Yahoo said it plans to add more features such as "Save to My Web" and Web search in the near future. It is also assessing the advertising capabilities of Y!Q and RSS feeds. The self-serve beta program will be expanded by the end of the year, after the initial beta period ends, the company said. Publishers can give their feedback at the online Publisher Center.