I read this little piece on SEW today that was a complete blasting of Microsoft adCenter and in my opinion, completely unnecessary. Sure, MSN has had its ups and downs with the recently launched adCenter but don’t you expect that from nearly every early version of just about any product? I understand that it is slightly different because it is more directly dealing with money, but MSN has been quick to take care of any financial errors the system has encountered. Its growing pains 101. I’m sure that $500 Dyson vacuum you bought your wife 3 years ago had its issues, but did you completely throw it out the window? Why should Microsoft be held to any different standard? For people are who are the early adapters and must have the first generation everything, you’ve come to expect bugs and less then perfect performance. In an ideal world all first versions would be the final version but this is not the case and some things require a bit of patience and understanding.
Ahhh thats an interesting word, “Understanding”. Let’s take a look at Mr. Wright’s complaints and see if I can understand.
First MSN’s explanation:
* Microsoft may use matching criteria other than keyword searches to display your advertisements.
* Microsoft may display your advertisements on its network of advertising channels operated by the Microsoft network of participating Web sites and other distribution outlets.
to which Mr. Wright responds:
Ummm. Ok, let?s recap. Now AdCenter will be serving my ads based upon some mysterious criteria that is most likely top secret and designed to increase revenue for Microsoft ? and most likely decrease revenue for my clients. I have no idea when an ad is going to be served in AdCenter?s contextual network, and I have no control over the bids in this contextual network, nor the ability to track the effectiveness of the contextual ads. And I was notified of these changes on the day that the changes took place, leaving me with no time to consult with clients and make budget adjustments accordingly. And if I don?t like it, I should take my ball and go home.
Man, this really sounds shady, the search engine bidding on words for me that I have no control over, completely unfair. This does sound kind of familiar, oh yeah, Google has been doing this for over a year now. Like I always say about basketball refs, if you are gonna call a foul than call the foul, just call it both ways. If you are gonna call out Microsoft, be sure to point your finger at Google as well.
So we all understand what MSN and Google are doing, but what can we do about it other them e-complain on our blogs? Thankfully one of the search engines offers us a way to control this advanced keyword matching. In the reporting center, one of these engines offers you a way to capture the exact query a user typed in. Want to guess which one? If you said MSN you are correct but you don’t win anything. MSN allows a query string parameter that you can insert into your destination URLs in order to pass the query information onto your analytics software. This information can then be used to adjust your bids and campaigns in order to actually SAVE you money. Pretty nifty eh? I can’t wait for Google to offer us this type of information.
Regarding the second part of Mr. Wright’s complaint about MSN putting your ads on their partner sites and not having control over this, everyone does it. Google puts your ads in Gmail, Reader, among the millions of made-for-adsense sites in their content network (re: Google Loves Splogs). Yahoo puts your ads all over the place. And as for MSN, they put it on MSN controlled sites only. Maybe it is just me but that does not seem like an issue to me, at least we know the quality of the content is high quality and not splog worthy.
This post may seem like I am an MSN homer, but I am not. I have no affiliation with them and in fact have ripped them several times on this blog, but I don’t like to see anyone unjustly attacked in a public forum such as the SEW article. I applaud MSN for not taking the easy route that many have suggested and just mimic Google Adwords but have created a very powerful tool that will continue to mature and get better with age.