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A Periodic (P)review Of Leaping Forward

By: Johan

Thursday, September 7

Microsoft AdCenter Employee Admits to Chaos

Microsoft launched its AdWords alternative here in the UK last month and I started adding some campaigns a week ago. First impressions were dreadful. It took ab-so-lu-tely ages and ages to do anything. I even went as far as digging out the Internet Explorer link in good faith of it working smoother in their native browser but no such luck. Adding two ads took me 40 minutes. I emailed them my thoughts...

It wasn't until 4 days later I gave it another shot. The AdCenter system was a lot faster by now. No more 'error number 1' or unknown errors anymore so I finally got to get on with business.

The system looks quite nice but it's rather JavaScript heavy, something I'm not a fan of. You're left wondering whether that submit will actually do anything since everything is framed up and it all interacts without many page re-loads. After getting used to their way of wording things, like 'orders' etc., it wasn't all that bad. It lacks a couple of things though, such as remembering my geotargeting settings etc. Now I have to change my language settings to UK English every single time I place an 'order'.

After a day of adding loads of ads came the editorial notices by e-mail. Pretty much everything was declined. I was a bit miffed considering the time it took me to enter them and even more so because the exact same ads had been running on AdWords and Overture successfully for ages. Even worse was the fact the e-mails only said 'keyword declined' without any hint about what was wrong about the keyword. So I e-mailed them again...

A day later they actually rung me! And the conversation was rather strange. The guy sounded bored, tired and annoyed. Not so much with me but more with his job. He explained a few things which helped clear it all up a bit. Turned out it wasn't the keywords that were declined, but the ads themselves. Nice way of putting it in that email then! He also enlightened me to the obscure link that actually tells you the reason for them being declined. Most of them were down to excessive capitalization (Google doesn't mind) and incorrect grammar like "Fast UK Delivery" - again, fine by Google but Microsoft seems a bit pedantic here. And those are not just my words! The Microsoft guy, whilst explaining the decline reasons, mentioned a couple of them being pedantic. And then he got on a roll, talking about how shit the system was and that they meant to launch it next year but someone pushed it through too early. It was amusing in a way but as an advertiser who spends a lot of money on it, not so nice to hear!

Anyway, besides the guy whinging about the system and all the complaints they had to deal with, he did help me out and got most ads up and running. But their rules are so tight it's well annoying. Some of my ads for natural remedies were declined because I needed scientific evidence. Too bad the pharmaceutical companies haven't sponsored any research for these products so there is no so called proof. Their reviewers seemed to have been trained in order to make sure as many get declined as possible, making absolutely sure Microsoft makes the least amount of money possible.

Upholding certain standards is a good thing but getting ads up and running should be in their financial interest as well so why be so anal about it? If they really want to compete with Google they'd better adjust their rules accordingly IMO. At this rate I'll never get all my ads copied over.

On the upside of it all, because here in the UK hardly any advertisers have jumped ship, you can get almost any phrase at the top spot for 5p a click. And with this attitude towards editorial quality, it will probably stay quiet for quite a while.