Microsoft AdCenter Desktop Beta

I have been participating in Microsoft’s AdCenter beta program. This type of desktop PPC management tool is essential to managing PPC programs. I have participated in, and managed several beta programs in my career and you expect things to be a clunky at first. if you have used the early releases, I am sure you would agree, there was room to improve.

A Little History

We were once satisfied to manage out PPC campaigns in an excel spreadsheet. Tabbing, cutting, pasting, searching and replacing. However the bar was raised when Google’s AdWords Editor program was released. My weekly drill of checking position and conversions was made dramatically easier with the release of AdWords Editor. Tasks that required HOURs to perform in a spreadsheet were reduced to minutes.

As good as Google’s Editor was it highlighted the weaknesses the web interfaces to Microsoft and Yahoo’s PPC marketing programs. It difficult for me to justify spending hours on manging a campaign at Microsoft or Yahoo when you accomplish the same task in minutes on Google. Sure, improvement have been made to Microsoft and Yahoo’s interfaces, most notably the ability to import Google campaigns.

Yahoo also made significant improvements to their web interface sometime ago allowing you to view and sort all your keywords by CTR, Conversion, Cost, etc. An improvement that likely cut management time by at least a third (although you STILL have to be careful to reset any custom date periods as they revert to default dates as you work through screens!). However, Microsoft’s web interface has lagged and is exasperating to the point that I am sure many early adopters have simply abandoned it, as it is just too labor intensive.

Many of you at this point are wondering why bother. If Google has upwards of 70 percent of the search market, why take the time to work with the other engines at all. Simple, different search engines have different users. If you are only marketing to Google’s users you are missing around 20% of the prospects out there. Microsoft is the default search engine on every PC and many users never change that. In addition, Yahoo established a huge web-mail and user group base early on and those users continue to rely on Yahoo for search, news and more.

I have continued to work with clients who advertise on Microsoft, so you can imagine that I was VERY pleased to get the first release of its AdCenter Desktop. While the initial release was hamstring by some of the same user-interface/logic issues that are present in the HTML version, it was a giant leap forward. And, I think from the feedback they received, Microsoft realized it still had work to do and set about to make it right.

Today, I can say that the wait is over. I downloaded version 2.3.0 (5.0.10148.0) today and wow, VAST improvement. Virtually ALL of the early complaints have been addressed. The product is quick, intuitive, with multiple account support, the ability to increase or decrease bids incrementally, the ability to pause keywords, and better negative term management – yeah!

I feel that Microsoft has a true contender here. I will be working through and updating my client accounts this week and.. I am looking forward to the experience.

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