Social networking outfit Bebo has recruited MSN’s regional sales boss Mark Charkin to help launch its much-awaited ad strategy.

Formerly head of EMEA Regional Sales for MSN, Charkin will be responsible for developing the social networking site’s ad platform and building its UK and Ireland sales team.

His move comes as online communities are mounting their challenge to established players such as MSN and Yahoo! in the ad space, where they say they can offer better value to users and buyers.

Bebo is developing its business model around what it calls ‘engagement marketing’ – where ad messages are spread virally around content - and has also announced plans for a platform that will allow users to choose the ads they receive.

Echoing comments he made to us earlier this month, Bebo’s VP of business development and sales, Jim Scheinman said: “This is a key appointment for us. The Web 1.0 advertising era is over and targeted banners are now a tangential part of the new Web 2.0 advertising.

Charkin, 35, said: “Bebo is attracting great brands and innovative agencies, presenting me with the chance to play a key part in helping define the new rules of ‘pull’ marketing.

I am joining a market leader which after only 12 months has 27 million of the most engaged users of any social network globally.