Review of MSN adCenter Beta

I recently received an invitation to try the MSN adCenter Beta. Here are some first impressions:

First and most importantly, MSN adCenter implements the fixed bid-for-position technique of Yahoo! Sponsored Search (and almost everyone else) instead of the vastly better AdWords method of rewarding better performing ads with more bid power. This means that ad placement will be subject to the same bid inflation, pinning, gap-surfing, and other time-consuming and wasteful techniques seen on YSS. This rewards MSN at the expense of advertisers.

MSN adCenter doesn’t at first look like either AdWords or Yahoo! Sponsored Search. Instead of a typical dashboard, the design is more along the lines of a typical Windows “wizard”, comprised of a series of steps. This is fine for starting out and building Orders (basically equivalent to campaigns), but it is inconsistent with maintenance tasks.

Features I like:

  • Dayparting – You can specify what days of the week and times of day your ads will appear.
  • Geotargeting – Target by country or city. This is a bit ambiguous with respect to what constitutes a city. For intance, does Seattle include Bellevue and Redmond? What about non-incorporated areas?
  • Interface – Generally the interface is clean and makes good use of controls…with some caveats (see below).
  • Parameters – These are somewhat helpful global constants that save typing and make management a little easier, although you only get three of them in the version I tested.
  • Automatic keyword insertion enables you to include search queries in your ads.
  • Importing keywords from a spreadsheet.
  • Accounts may contain multiple campaigns, each with separate billing information.

Features I don’t like:

  • Many features need to be renamed or relabeled. For instance, calling the word “order” isn’t consistent with the object’s use or other PPC systems.
  • The frame within the window is really annoying: when editing a list of keywords, you may need to scroll the windows sideways or up/down. This would work much better if the web page itself expanded.
  • Names of the various items – An “order” suggests that it’s a temporary request that exists until the order is fulfilled. Call it a campaign.
  • Negative keywords are difficult to apply.
  • You can’t edit existing keywords. They must be deleted and recreated.

I’m still tinkering and will probably add more comments in future posts.

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