Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, March 25, 2011

Microsoft adCenter Ignores Advertiser Feedback

As most search marketers know, a few months ago Microsoft adCenter essentially absorbed Yahoo Search Marketing in the US and created the Search Alliance. Before the Alliance went live, advertisers expressed the desire to have the ability to set separate bids for Bing and Yahoo traffic. After all, most of us have experienced widely varying success between the two engines – and it’s not always the same engine that performs better. It depends on the advertiser and the campaign.

Well, we didn’t have the ability to set separate bids in the beginning. OK, fine, we get that there are a lot of technical issues with combining two very different platforms, as well as training the Yahoo staff to work with adCenter (all the adCenter reps were eliminated in the Alliance). We get that not everything can go live in the beginning. We PPC’ers are a patient bunch.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. adCenter does a big push in their blog and on their customer forums, asking advertisers to share their feature requests. Not only did they ask for feature requests, they gave advertisers the ability to vote on the requests. Each individual participant in the request forum was given a total of 25 votes. You could assign 1, 2, or 3 of your votes to any given request – and you could submit your own request for votes. On the surface, this seemed like an innovative way to prioritize customer requests. I was intrigued and excited.

Well, I immediately went in and asked for separate bidding for Yahoo and Bing. People immediately jumped in and added their votes to the request. Then I posted the following on Twitter: “Want separate bids for Yahoo and Bing traffic in adCenter? Vote now!”

Things really went fast after that. Within an hour the separate-bid request had more than twice as many votes as any other request. I was encouraged – while I’d heard rumblings from a few people in the know that indicated we wouldn’t be getting separate bids any time soon, I thought that the show of support from the PPC community would sway things. After all, according to the request site, Microsoft is actually considering making adCenter compatible with Chrome! (By the way, in case you didn’t know, Chrome is a Google product, so this is pretty big.)

Alas, my hopes were dashed early this week, when I received the following response from adCenter:

“We understand that you would like to bid on Bing and Yahoo! sites individually; however, we’ve made the decision to not allow bids on just Bing or just Yahoo! Search at this time. One of our goals is to provide advertisers with the benefit of a combined marketplace through a single platform, creating a competitive alternative in search. Allowing separate bids counteracts that goal. However, there are options you can investigate including the Enhanced Search Network Distribution feature and URL exclusion controls that create separate ad groups for ads that show exclusively on Yahoo! + Bing sites versus our syndicated search partner sites. This allows you to be more specific about where you’d like your ads to display. You can find more information about this and other options in our Search Alliance FAQs and in our Community blog. Thank you for your input. We appreciate it and your business.”

What a load. Nice try, adCenter, but spewing 150 words of PR BS and throwing us the bone of bidding separately for syndicated search is lame at best. Just so you know, adCenter, we didn’t ask for separate bids for Yahoo & Bing vs. search partners – we asked for separate bids for Yahoo and Bing.

What really grinds my gears is the fact that adCenter gave the community a fantastic opportunity to provide feedback and ask for the features we really need to actually start using adCenter more – and then ignored it. It’s clear to me now that they really don’t want our feedback if it’s something that they don’t like for whatever reason. Instead of taking the opportunity to give advertisers a great feature that not even Google has, they chose to give us platitudes.

And why bother asking people to vote if you’re going to reject the top vote getter? That’s like saying “hey Michigan, cast your vote for Governor today! We’re going to pick who we want anyway, but come on out and vote!”

As my kids would say, “FAIL!”

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  • wow, harsh. do you really think there is no value in offering us more of a voice in product direction, unless we can get everything we want? What a tantrum. The reason I care is that I don't want Microsoft to stop listening to all our other suggestions just because this one apparently conflicts with their business agenda, and you label the whole voting experience a 'fail.'

    By Blogger sheastadium, at 3:29 PM EDT  

  • Amen. I would love to see a MCC like dashboard... or CPA stats for adgroups or campaigns. Is it that hard really?

    By Blogger Luke, at 5:07 PM EDT  

  • @shea, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don't work for Microsoft. I never said there was no value in having a voice - in fact, I said I was excited about that. I also didn't say that the whole voting experience was a fail. I said THIS SITUATION was a fail. The fact that Microsoft rejected the suggestion with the most votes is a fail. That's it.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 7:09 PM EDT  

  • @Luke - I agree 100%. These requests are also in the suggestion box - go vote if you haven't already! And no - it shouldn't be hard. The data is there already!

    By Blogger Melissa, at 7:11 PM EDT  

  • adcenter the best at destroying their own business. By acting like they're a monopoly and people have to use their product. Someone should inform the they're a distant number two.

    The more they do retarded things & deliver broken product crapy products (adcenter desktop) the more people move their money to Google & and with in the next few years facebook.

    By Blogger The Guru, at 9:16 PM EDT  

  • Yeah I think adCenter missed a pretty substantial opportunity.

    I understand they want to offer a simple platform for users to manager Bing/Yahoo! PPC....but why not have the option to do either or?

    That would be a great offering that would attract more adCenter users.

    Novices could utilize adCenter as it now, one platform for the alliance, while veterans could select to manage both platforms independently.

    Sigh...who knows, if we keep asking for it, may be we'll get it.

    The squeeky wheel gets the oil.

    Now Clicks

    By Blogger Ryan, at 12:39 PM EDT  

  • The adCenter user interface is unfriendly in a dozen ways, and as Melissa said, Microsoft has been very proactive in soliciting feedback. I've sent in my long list of suggestions twice, and I'm sure hundreds of others have done the same. The result? Not one single improvement that I have seen in the months since the merger. You think Melissa was harsh? You should hear what I'm muttering under my breath right now!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:05 AM EDT  

  • Love it, Dan! So true.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 9:23 AM EDT  

  • If there is something that I love about Microsoft adCenter, that is, they make sure that the ads being searched are relevant to what the searcher needs. That is something that you cannot expect from a company whose only interest is to earn. they care. that is what the guidelines are for.

    By Blogger marge, at 5:09 PM EDT  

  • But Marge, that also works against a site. I've been fighting AdCenter pretty much since day one of the merger about "content relevancy" or "Landing site relevancy". They are determining what is relevant for everyone. But the problem is that 1) it's not a one size fit all world (at least until Microsoft - and to be fair, Apple as well - came around) and 2)No one is forcing anyone to click on a particular ad. AdCenter's relevancy policies conflate search results with ads. I personally have no trouble differentiating the two when I do a search: the results (which i invariably have to sift through to find a proper result fo my needs) are on one side, the ads (which I usually/often ignore) are on the other side.
    To make a claim that they can understand and/or predict any particular search users disatisfaction based on whether an ad is directly relevant to what INFORMATION they are searching for has two big built-in errors: that any one search use is different from any other; and that most search users are looking on the "left" side of the results rather than the "right" advertising side. It is like a newspaper saying, "uh no we won't accept your ad because we don't feel our readers are interested in going shopping at your store."

    By Blogger Andreiovitch, at 9:13 AM EST  

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