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Major MSN AdCenter Changes!

Feb 22nd, 2007 | By | Category: MSN AdCenter, Pay Per Click

Do you use MSN AdCenter?

Microsoft’s Answer to Google & Yahoo Ads

It is Microsoft’s answer to Google AdWords & Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and the only way to show your text & graphic ads to MSN & Live search. Although it didn’t do too well with marketer mind-share in its first year … Microsoft has deep pockets and won’t stop trying until it starts winning in this market.

When it was launched I used it for a number of reasons … First, the world’s first launch was in Sunny Singapore :D . And since I live in this sunny funny town, I decided to maximize my opportunity. Next, it turned out to be much cheaper (read the next paragraph).

The ROI on AdCenter is usually better, the traffic usually lower

Over time, I’ve come to realize the value of AdCenter. In fact, I use it regularly for all my small websites – although the traffic is usually around 1/8th to 1/10th of Google, the ROI is usually atleast 50% higher.

You see, Google & Yahoo are very competitive for most keywords. In fact, it usually takes me more than a month to make any keyword profitable on Google AdWords. And there’re a number of reasons why it’s so hard to make things work on Google

  • So much competition! All the hype about PPC has caused loads of people to flock to AdWords
  • Google takes history into consideration. That means old campaigns always get preference over new ones. And you need to stay in the market for a few months before you start getting traction from google.
  • Google’s mysterious quality score. Although I’ve never had a problem with it (and last week, Google started releasing quality score details), this does drive up costs even more.
  • Crappy AdSense sites. Contextual advertising was a brilliant idea … showing relevant ads along with content. But so many crappy AdSense sites have popped up, that these days its just too hard to make money from Contextual ads.

For all these reasons and more, I invest my time in MSN AdCenter – it’s not the world’s friendliest system, but if you get in early … you’ll hold the advantage in your niche for a long time.

Yesterday, AdCenter fixed a lot of its Features

In the past, AdCenter tried too hard to be different from Google AdWords & Yahoo in the past. While some of its features are really innovative and targeted (e.g. targeting by sex, age group and demographics) … others are just plain stupid (changing the name of ad group and calling them “orders”).

Yesterday, they fixed a whole bunch of these niggling problems. And I’m glad … because this will make it a lot easier to move campaigns from Google to AdCenter now.

Sadly, these upgrades are only for the people on the new AdCenter BETA

On seeing the webinar, I rushed to my AdCenter account to see the new changes. But they weren’t there!

Shocked, I clicked around hoping to uncover a secret button to find them. After a while, I gave up and went back to the blog post that started it all. And there, I saw the message from the AdCenter team.

For the users of the current Microsoft adCenter beta, we have exciting news to share.

For those of you who haven’t been migrated to the beta site yet, you will learn more about these features when you get access later this spring.


Jeanie, Microsoft adCenter Community Team

Here’s a list of changes in MSN AdCenter

But I could access the new MSN AdCenter BETA

Just for the heck of it, I decided to go and try my luck at the new login. So, I headed over to the AdCenter BETA site.

It works! I got in and checked out all these features in detail. And now I’ll share my thoughts on the upgraded features on the MSN AdCenter BETA

Feature Update – Orders Become Ad Groups

MSN’s system of renaming the thing called “Ad Groups” was really irritating. I mean, when Google & Yahoo can agree on calling things Campaigns -> Ad Groups, then just follow suit guys!

I’m glad they fixed this one … now all three major systems follow the same organization scheme (Account –> Campaign –> Ad Group –> Keywords)

Feature Update – Better Navigation

Getting into ad groups & keywords used to be a real pain in the butt. The system loaded with ajax (which was cool), but you had to click through the campaign AND ad group before seeing keywords.

Now, we can switch between campaigns with a simple drop down menu. Reminds me of how Google handles different accounts in MCC (The Super Google account for PPC consultants like me to handle multiple Client accounts)

New ESSENTIAL Feature – Import Campaigns

Finally, we can just import campaigns from Google/Yahoo directly into MSN. I haven’t yet checked out this feature in detail but I’m sure it’s fairly seamless integration … these days MSN doesn’t really half-baked features.

Brilliant idea! Makes it simple for all Google advertisers to switch.

New Feature – Bulk edits to Keywords

AdWords offers this feature and its very useful. It allows you to edit all the keywords at once. Let’s say your costs are running too high … just call up all the keywords and reduce their bid prices by 20%. Or you find that the conversion rate is not high enough, just bulk edit to make them all exact matches not broad matches.

New Feature – Use Actions for Keywords

This is an OK feature. Basically it gives the flexibility of having a drop down menu after selecting lots of keywords. Google & Yahoo have buttons to do the same stuff (which I think is more intuitive). So yeah, I’m not firing hot about this feature.

New Feature – Full text search from every screen

This one – I love! Google changed the way I look at information … and it always seemed like a waste of time for me to wade through campaigns & ad groups to find specific keywords. And when google implemented this, I loved that feature. I’m glad AdCenter’s jumped on board.

To be honest, this won’t save much time. Most of the bidding, keyword matching and other optimization happens on a campaign or ad group level … and you’ll still have spend most of your time working from traditional navigation.

New Feature – Favorites & Bookmarking

I haven’t seen this feature anywhere else … but it sounds really promising. In all the PPC accounts I manage, I find that some ad groups inevitably need most of my attention. I guess it’s the 80/20 rule. By adding these to favorites and just being able to access favourites quickly should be a huge time-saver.

Downloading datasets to Excel

I see most of my campaigns & results inside the web interface … since I usually keep my keyword list under 500. But larger companies and agencies will really be able to use this feature well. The best way for them to compare & add results from all the online marketing is probably some proprietary template from their company. I hope the new Yahoo! provides this feature … the old one only stored statistics from the last 3 months :(

I Still Have Qualms With MSN AdCenter

While, they’ve taken some great steps in making AdCenter an awesome advertising platform … there are still one thing I absolutely hate about AdCenter

Their keyword & ad review process absolutely sucks. The editors arbitrarily flag websites as offensive and then other editors come back to apologize.

My ad & website about digestive health was marked as “firearms” and shut down for 5 days.


Each time, I dropped them an email and some other apologetic staff did their best to restart my campaign. But their system is so bureaucratic, that it takes about two days to get through the red tape and start my campaigns (even if I have a staff on my side).

Still, I’m willing to forgive and forget. Google started like this. Now, it’s automatic approval for ads & keywords. Yahoo started like this. Now it’s automatic approval. Hopefully MSN will learn how to flag offensive sites properly.

In the meantime, check out these links below (oh, and leave me a comment please … I slaved over this post all morning).

Other Related Links

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