Microsoft was my guest on Net Income last night. There were a total of 4 Microsoft Adcenter team members on the call. We tackled a LOT of questions from users on this blog post as well as ones that were emailed to me. They addressed everything from basic functionality of Adcenter all the way to their stance on search engine arbitrage.
Natala Menezes, Jeanie Dumont, James Colborn, and Brian Boland were the team members that came on. I give MAJOR props to Microsoft for coming on the show. They made no demands… at all.. no prefab questions… no questions before hand… they just came on and talked about their product. Very Cool.
The first thing I asked them if they had anything exciting going on they wanted to talk about first before we dove into all questions:
James jumped in and talked about the Search Marketing Expo that is taking place in Seattle June 4th & 5th (next week!). Satya Nadella from Microsoft will be doing the afternoon keynote On June 4th and also doing 2 panels. It sounds like Lots of Microsoft people are going to be in attendance for the SMX.
Next we jumped right into the questions… I started off with one that was asked 3 different times on my blog – Moving Sponsored search above related search items to improve CTR (4:45)
Natala jumped in and talked about secondary search results vs primary and search patterns. It was a much more detailed answer than I was expecting
That lead me to dive deeper in to another one of our questions posted – Why is the CTR on Microsoft Adcenter lower vs other search engines (6:00):
James took this one and explained how its a tough question to answer in general without knowing any other variables. He went into more detail about possible scenarios. I added a little bit to it by using the content vs search network example. Basically I was saying if someone was just using search network data vs search+content data then obviously the search data would have a lower CTR as there are not as many content sites throwing ads in your face. He also talked about how they use 3rd parties to give them constant data on how they compare with their CTR.
James followed up by saying they will continue to educate their advertisers and point out areas that will help them improve their performance and improve their click through rate. He also talked about adlabs a little and best practices.
The next question I asked was about the lag time from when an ad is posted or pulled to when the action happens (9:45)
James took this one also and said the average lag time when you put up a new ad is 1-4 hours delay. He also said that if you see anything contrary to email a special alias they setup for this radio show – adc411 at microsoft.com.
That led me to inquire about the current state of Adcenter as a whole is it beta or just what was the current status is (11:20):
James said that Adcenter is out of beta (since May 5th ’06) but the content network is currently in pilot.
Natala jumped in and said they are in the “getting their feet wet stage” meaning they have been doing it for long enough and now working to constantly improve the product, making it more stable, and making it easier to use.
I added that Microsoft Adcenter is really what got me started in Pay-per-click advertising. I had flirted with Google Adwords before but never really ramped it up until last spring which really got my appetite wet to try the $40,000 experiment on PPC. I also added that I feel that Microsoft Adcenter has excellent communication with its advertisers and how nice it is to get someone on the phone who is knowledgeable about the product.
Next question – When you’re placing ads/keywords the estimates seem to be very high. Can you explain why that is? (17:15)
James explained that while at times it is true that the estimate is higher then the best CTR and placement could ever warrant however it does give you a idea of what to expect in relation to other keywords. He went on to even say they took a lot of questions from this blog as feedback into their team to look at and refine some of the things they are doing.
Next question – Do you have a quality score assignment? (20:15)
Brian jumped in and said 1 month ago they did implement quality based ranking that does impact advertisers. He said it does affect mainly those that are putting in keywords and copy that is not relevant to the landing pages. He goes into more detail.
This of course led me down the path of affiliate/arbitrage questions starting with – Whats your stance on Affiliate Marketers (22:15)
Brian said that they are not against affiliate marketers specifically but rather anyone who is misleading users to click on ads that are not relevant to the users query. He goes into great detail explaining this.
I quickly followed that up asking if they are actually then using a human to make a judgement call on what was and was not a good value to the user (24:00)
Brian said they did have people that helped them create the “broad brush strokes” on how they painted the quality score. He said they also take in a lot of feedback from the users/advertisers to create these rule sets.
What is Microsoft’s stand on search engine arbitrage (26:30) –
Natala took this one on and said that it did not matter if it was arbitrage or a site design issue but if it impacted the user experience of getting them to the end product as quickly as possible then regardless of the business model.
So I clarified even more saying that from what they were saying I get that Microsoft is not against affiliate marketers or arbitrageurs but rather those that give a bad user and advertiser experience.
After the 2nd break we got right back into it. I gave a shout out to the Adcenter team for coming on and addressing questions from their community and we got to more quesitons –
The next question I asked was How can a person take their keywords from other search engines and easily import them into Microsoft Adcenter (33:45)
Natala said within Adcenter there were 3 ways to do it- and she went into great detail here is the jist of it-
1) Upload bulk from a spreadsheet (shoemoney pick)
2) Use the cut and paste feature (power posting)
3) Contact Service team- (woah)
Jeanie jumped in and talked more about the 3) option on how you can contact the service team and use their “quick launch” program. Its designed to help you quick and easily get your keywords in the system. You can learn more about this at the AdCenter blog
Also it was announced that Jeanie Dumont is now the Lead Community Manager! I have met Jeanie at several conferences and also had meetings 1 on 1 with her about Adcenter and I can tell you first hand she loves feedback both positive and negative and really cares about the community. Congrats Jeanie !.
The Next question was about the Microsoft Adcenter API – Who is it available to? How do you get access to it?(40:58)
James jumped in and took this one. He said it is on a invite basis currently. The individuals currently need to fit a certain criteria. You can go to the Adcenter website and click on the link that says “Want to know more about the Adcenter API” and when it becomes more open you will be contacted.
James did add that the API is free of charge and there is no intent to change that.
I was trying my best to get in as many questions as possible that were asked on the blog post so the next one was – Are you guys still doing promotional coupons and how can people learn more about them: (43:00)
Natala said they are doing various promotions for new users that range in value.
Is your main avenue for giving out coupons at shows? (44:36)
James said no guarantees but if you go up and talk to a Adcenter rep at any of the shows chances are you will be in a great position to score a coupon.
Another Good Question that was posted on the blog – Is it true that in order to target countries other then your own you need multiple accounts with multiple currencies to target those markets?(45
Natala said that was not true and when you create your account you can select multiple markets. The methodology for selecting what currency you are charged is from when you originally setup your account.
The next question is one that popped up in chat room – Can you explain how the Quality Score will ever HELP affiliate marketers instead of only hurt them (46:02)
Brian talked about the amount of transparency and their commitment to continue that level of transparency. He talked about all the tools currently that Adcenter offers and how they will continue to deliver tools to users.
Any plans for better bulk editing of mass keywords? (47:30)
Natala said absolutely! This is one of there biggest requests and they are working on this.
They also dropped the adc411 at Microsoft.com email for people to contact them with feature requests.
You have dynamic keyword insertion but not the ability to provide a default keyword. Is there any plans to implement a default keyword option in the future? (48:50)
Natala jumped on this one also saying that this is another critically important feature they are working on and have resources working on this.
Jeanie also added that you might want to consider always having an extra ad in your ad set that does not contain any dynamic keywords that way you will always be sure your keyword will not be thrown out for being to long in the ad copy.
Last question: What is Microsoft’s policy on trademark bidding (51:20)
James said that every advertiser has the option of filing a petition to have other advertisers prevented from bidding on their keyword however it is allowed as long as the word being used is relevant. – He actually gives a much longer definition which I encourage you to listen to!
Thanks again to the adcenter team for coming on the show. Just a reminder if you have questions they setup a special email alias for this show adc411 at microsoft.com to address any questions you might have or any feedback you might have.
Also to stay up to date with Adcenter check out their blog at adcenterblog.spaces.live.com