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3 adCenter Optimization Tips

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After you've set up your adCenter account (see Greg Habermann's fantastic guide here), it's time to really dig into the adCenter platform and optimize.

Many people haven't spent a lot of time learning the features and quirks of Microsoft's platform, which is understandable given Bing's smaller market share to date. But now is the perfect time to dive into adCenter and learn how to get the most out of it for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.

Tip 1: Your Yahoo Keyword List Will Have Gaps When Ported to adCenter

Yahoo's keyword normalization was a lot different than Bing's (or Google's, for that matter). Anyone who has uploaded a granular, well built Google keyword list into Yahoo knows that Yahoo usually kicks out somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of the list. That's because Yahoo's matching system normalized a huge number of queries into the same search.

For example, if you tried to load the following keywords into Yahoo, all but one would be kicked out:

  • Man shoes
  • Men shoes
  • Man shoe
  • Man's shoes
  • Men's shoes

To Yahoo's system, these are all the exact same query -- so while you were only allowed to load one of these keywords, that keyword would match to any of the above queries.

If you simply port your Yahoo keywords into adCenter, you're leaving plenty of gaps. Microsoft's keyword normalization is much more in line with Google's, meaning you'll wind up with much better coverage by porting over your Google keywords list.

The one major thing that adCenter does normalize is possessives. If you tried to load the above list of five keywords into adCenter, the last two keywords would be declined as duplicates, because they're simply possessive forms of keywords included earlier on the list. AdCenter doesn't see the 's on any keyword, so whichever version appears first will be the one that adCenter takes. The best idea is simply to remove possessives from your keyword list to avoid confusion.

So use your Google keyword list for adCenter -- you'll wind up with much better coverage and have less keyword building to do in the future.

Tip 2: Take Advantage of adCenter's {Param} function

Microsoft adCenter has an awesome feature that can be leveraged to deliver dynamic, keyword specific creative -- and almost no one is taking advantage of it.

Each keyword in adCenter has three fields for custom ad content (labeled Param1, Param2, and Param3). If you're using keyword-level URLs (and you should be), Param1 is where you put that landing page and each ad will have {Param1} listed as the landing page. This is telling adCenter that when that ad appears, it should look at the contents of Param1 for the keyword that triggered the ad and use these contents as the destination URL.

What many people don't realize is that you can use these fields to customize any part of your ad. This is a case where adCenter has a cool feature that Google doesn't offer, but most people don't spend much time optimizing their adCenter accounts specifically so this awesome feature is underused.

Here are some ideas of what to do with these fields:

  • Dynamically populate your ads with the product type/silo for your keyword.
    • Keyword: Fendi Pumps
    • Param2: Pumps
    • Ad text: "Shop designer {Param2} and more..."
  • Create reusable promo ads.
    • Param2: 20%, 30%, 40% (updated as promo changes)
    • Ad text: "Get {Param2} off your order today..."
  • Improve keyword insert.
    • Fill in one of the Param fields with a correctly spelled or more brand-friendly version of "typo" keywords, and then use that instead of keyword insert.
    • Keyword: Desginer Sheos (if you use keyword insert, this is what will appear in your ad!)
    • Param3: Designer Shoes
    • Ad title: {Param3}

Remember, you can customize any aspect of your ad -- including the display URL. Just make sure that the text you include in the Param columns plays nicely with your ads and doesn't push them over the character limit.

Tip 3: Take Advantage of the New Domain Exclusion Feature

Last month I wrote a list of unique features from Yahoo that the other paid search platforms should incorporate -- and one of my wishes has already come true!

Just like Google, adCenter allows you to control whether your paid search ads are syndicated to other sites in their partner network. You can choose to have them only appear on Bing/Yahoo, only appear on partner sites, or appear on both. Syndicating your ads across partner sites can be a bit scary, but adCenter has recently added a tool that lets you review where your ads are appearing and opt out of poor performing partners.

First, pull a Publisher Performance report in adCenter. Review the performance of each domain (CTR, conversion rate, etc.) and make a list of domains that are performing below goal. Then exclude these domains, using either the adCenter UI or the adCenter desktop tool (instructions can be found here).

This is a quick adjustment that can make a significant difference in the performance of your adCenter campaigns. Google offers this feature for their content network, but they've been reluctant to roll it out to paid search, so right now adCenter is the only place you can take advantage of this filtering in paid search.

Summary

There are several other differences between Microsoft adCenter and Google AdWords, but these three are a great starting point to optimize your campaigns. Expect to see many more features and tweaks rolled out over the next six months as Microsoft takes on a significant increase in paid search traffic.

Now that you don't have to spend all that time fixing those annoying Panama upload sheets there's no excuse for not digging into and really learning Microsoft adCenter.

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