MS Adcenter has a slightly higher ROI than other major PPC alternatives. However, this is where its dominance ends. Adcenter is plagued with small design problems that are not only annoying, but downright frustrating. With the amount of money that Adcenter brings in, it is time for them to make life a little easier for advertisers. Here are 7 easy changes that would make working in Adcenter much smoother.
For me, MS Adcenter stands out from other PPC platforms for one important reason; a slightly higher ROI. Over the past several years, I have used Adcenter for a variety of different products and services, and have consistently experienced better conversion rates with Adcenter than with Adwords or YSM. Unfortunately, higher conversion rates are the only advantage that Adcenter offers. While a high ROI is a fantastic benefit, the small annoyances quickly add up. Sometimes, I question whether the higher ROI is even worth it. As MS Adcenter quickly gains more leverage over the PPC search market, there are a number of changes that need to be made to help push it over the edge. This is especially true with the likely prospect of the MS-Yahoo deal coming to fruition by the end of year.
1. Ridiculous Custom Data Range Limitations
When you view your stats in Adcenter, you can use the traditional preselected time ranges like the current month, previous month, and entire year. However, if you try to create a custom date range, you are limited to 31 days. For example, viewing 2/10 to 3/10 is no problem, but 2/10 to 3/20 is apparently too much to ask. While you can create custom reports to get this type of data, it seems like an unnecessary use of time.
2. Stringent Negative Keyword Limitations
Currently, you are limited to only 1024 characters, per campaign, to create negative keywords list. If your average negative keyword is 6 characters, plus an additional character for the comma, you can only create 146 negative keywords, whereas Adwords allows 10,000 negative keywords per campaign. This is especially detrimental if you decide to include trademarks of competitors on your negative keywords list. If you are advertising for a hosting company, there is ton of competition; you cannot even create negative keywords for all of your competition, so you’ll end up reaching 1024 character limit before you even start adding generic terms for which you don’t want your ad shown. The less negative keywords, the lower your ROI and the lower your conversions. The Adcenter product team said that a larger limit is coming soon, but neglected to give us an idea when, or how much the increase will be.
3. Tab Limitations
For some reason, you can only work within the framework of one tab. If you open another tab and try to make changes, you get an error message. If you want to make alterations to two different campaigns, such as when you are cross-testing, don’t plan on doing it with two or more tabs. It may be difficult to enable working in multiple tabs on Adcenter platform, but with all that developing power behind their curtains, it must be possible. This is just another example of how Adcenter makes things more difficult than they need to be.
4. One Line Ad Creation and Editing
For some reason, Adcenter does not allow you to define what words are on the first and second line of your ads. For example, if your ad says, “Best Blue Widgets. Over 50% Off!”, you cannot control its appearance like you can in Adwords. You cannot place “Over 50% Off!” on the second line, only “Off!” will show up on the second line.
5. Browser Compatibility
MS Adcenter is still not compatible with common browsers like Safari and Chrome, while its competition (YSM and Adwords) support a number of browsers. I know that Microsoft wants everyone to use IE, but come on. It is a waste of effort for me to open a new browser, just to use Adcenter.
6. Terrible Ad Preview Tool
It was exciting to hear about Adcenter’s new Ad Preview tool, until you actually use it. There is no geo location or language option. This means that if you are in France and want to know what your ad will look like to a user in UK, you must use a UK based proxy server to preview it. Talk about over-complicating things.
7. MSN.com Popular Searches
Okay, so this is not directly connected to Adcenter, but still an issue of concern for Adcenter advertisers. The new MSN portal has a feature known as “popular searches” that have links to the search results page on Bing. This means that if a user clicks on one of those links they will be taken to the Bing search results page, and they will see your ad. This is terrible news if one of your keywords becomes a “popular search”. Your impressions will skyrocket as well as your clicks and overall cost, while conversions will plummet. This destroys that high ROI I mentioned in the beginning. The people who followed, for example, “blue widget” link from MSN portal are not ready to buy it like someone who actually types in “blue widget” in the search box. They simply are not in the same mindset. This feature will often catch the attention of casual surfers, not buyers. It would be nice if advertisers had possibility to opt-out from displaying their ads after user has followed popular search link.
I know that many of these “issues” I have brought up about MS Adcenter seem insignificant on their own. In fact, they are annoying at best, but with the increasing popularity of Adcenter, these issues need to be addressed in order to make working in Adcenter a pleasure instead of a necessary pain in the neck.