Reuters has reported that Microsoft will partner with Bebo – the largest social networking site in the UK and a network that is hunting down MySpace and Facebook in the US.
Windows Live Messenger will be integrated with the Bebo system to allow instant messenging between members, in addition to the import and export of contacts across both user bases.
Joanna Shields, president of Bebo’s international business, confirmed why the alliance was good for them:
Our core strength is not building applications. We’re more of an open platform and much more likely to partner than build it ourselves
According to Shields, about 90 percent of Bebo users already use Windows Live IM services, making Microsoft the most logical partner.
But IMO Microsoft have more than a social chat in mind. This is an aggressive move into the social networking arena, one which they’ve kept their distance on in the past. Having already brokered deals to display advertising across Facebook and Digg, it is evident that Microsoft is targeting massive Web 2.0 audiences that have equally impressive home-grown content streams.
It’s perhaps not surprising then to also learn that Microsoft have announced that their Content Ads Network is to enter beta stage – allowing all US adCenter users the opportunity to place contextual advertising across Microsoft web assets like MSN… and… and I’m sure there must be others!
Despite the 300 million user base that Windows Live IM commands, it’s not until combined with content-rich sites like Bebo can they really tap the potential – for it’s content that is the life-blood (and advertiser success) of contextual advertising. The fact is that Microsoft need the Bebo’s of the Web just as much as the Bebo’s need the likes of Microsoft’s IM.