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Archive for July, 2007

5 Reasons Why I Hate MSN AdCenter

July 30th, 2007 No comments

I don’t expect any account management interface for SEM to be perfect. They all could use a little work, but when MSN AdCenter came out, I was appalled at how bad it was. Its a little better now, but still, you get the feeling that no one at MSN has ever run a medium to large size SEM campaign, or even considered what that might entail. Here’s my current list of MSN woes:

  1. It should not take over five clicks to change a bid from when I login. Partially this is because you have to click into the ad group and then another tab to look at bids (and more clicks to change them) and that process could be streamlined, but its also because you can’t display all campaigns or ad groups on one page so you have to hunt down the page with the campaign you want, then the ad group you’re looking for. It takes over three times as long as it would on Google AdWords or Yahoo. And you can’t change more than one ad group bid at a time, you have to click into each individual group. Tedious.
  2. Stability of AdCenter sucks. Its better now, but the amount of errors, random logouts, incredible slowness or incomplete actions I’ve gotten is massive compared to other systems. And frustrating.
  3. Stop the editorial approval emails. I get an ungodly amount of emails about things that are flagged for editorial approval, or disapproved. These are useful when say you get one every now and then and its actually an issue. They are not useful when you get hundreds and they are in error and have to be manually escalated to your account manager for correction. Every time a bulk change has been made on my accounts, the hundreds of emails situation happens and once there were so many it slowed down our office mailserver. I actually have a gmail account set up to just get these notices because MSN can’t stop them from mailing, even though they acknowledge they are useless and I should ignore them. Profuse apologies are no substitute for actually fixing the problem.
  4. Bulk upload is weak. You can’t upload ad groups (campaigns, yes, but ad groups to an existing campaign, seems not). You can’t upload bulk URL changes or bid changes.
  5. Change management is poor. This is more about MSN not having the greatest account management. When they added content targeting functionality you had to actively opt out each ad group from the new targeting. Having the targeting at the ad group level is a nice idea, so you can have ad groups in one campaign, but only the ones in content with good ROI. I am a fan of not having to change account structure to opt an ad group out (ahem, Google AdWords, I am looking in your direction). We have over one thousand ad groups, so that means a lot of clicks to opt everything out (of course, you couldn’t bulk upload the fix). Automatically opting everyone in and then having the onus on them to opt out was lame, suddenly we were hit with potentially days of work to manage this change. Basically, if you were a big advertiser, you were screwed. To MSN’s credit, once I discussed these concerns with them, they magically somehow opted all our ad groups out (maybe you want to share that functionality with your advertisers?). Sadly this process triggered #3 again…

I was going to leave out the fact that not supporting their interface in any browser but MSN is fairly client unfriendly, but that bears mentioning too. Especially when their competition supports most browsers.

I guess none of this shouldn’t surprise me. When AdCenter was in development (and I was at Hotwire) two people from MSN came to visit me to chat about advertiser needs for search listings management, wishlists for functionality, etc. One of the visitors was not feeling so great and not only left the meeting three times to use the bathroom, but also threw up on a temp office worker. I kid you not. We had to send the temp home. I am not going to mention the name of the visitor, but the next time I saw this person was in a bathroom at Search Engine Strategies, and I have to say, I wanted to hightail it out of there asap. A word of advice, if you are feeling unwell, and you are in a meeting, and the person you are meeting offers to reschedule or postpone things because you seem pretty sick, its time to leave, preferably before you gack on one of their coworkers. Its not your fault you are sick, people get sick, it happens, but it is your fault if you won’t leave when you should.

Back to the point, MSN AdCenter needs some work. At the end of the day I spend as little time as possible using it, which means MSN does not get much of my budget. The easier an interface is to use and the more ways I can optimize and expand my campaigns, the more money gets spent there (provided there’s traffic, which is a whole separate issue for MSN). I’d love to pore over those campaigns and add a ton of the keywords in my Google and Yahoo campaigns but frankly, I just don’t have the time to deal with them given their tools, and if I spent that same time on Google or Yahoo I’d get better incremental results.

Categories: Wag of My Finger Tags:

Why I Blog

July 27th, 2007 No comments

Some days I think that the industry needs another blog about search engine marketing* like it needs a hole in the head. And yet I still feel vaguely unsatisfied by a lot of my favorite sites about SEM. Recently I figured out exactly why that is. A lot of the popular sites (deservedly so, much of their content is great) have their content produced mainly by a combination industry insiders that come from a journalism or agency experience of SEM. There’s not much of the in-house day to day I login to my accounts and reports every morning perspective out there. Everyone is a just a little bit divorced from the actual nuts and bolts work of SEM. Or the hands on perspective is on behalf of a client. So some news just isn’t news to these folks, or the ramifications of the news are fairly unclear in terms of how it actually impacts the day to day work of SEM. Even articles specifically about in-house SEM focus more on building a team, or when to bring your efforts in-house rather than the actual work at hand.

After feeling this vague dissatisfaction for a few years made me finally give in to making a blog about in-house SEM. I plan to dole out accolades or beefs from the non-agency using, in-house SEM manager perspective. I’ll probably throw in useful tips, strategies, and other random bits of SEM goodness from time to time. Very occasionally silly things will also appear.

So enjoy the blog, and email me if you have any suggestions, we aim to please here at inhousesem!

*By “search engine marketing” I mean both the management of paid listings and the search engine optimization of content. In this blog SEM means both baby!

Categories: About the Blog Tags: