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MSN adCenter: Firefox Users Need Not Apply; Customers With Firefox Might Not Get Tracked

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It annoyed me a few weeks ago when I signed up for the MSN adCenter pilot that Firefox wasn't supported. That was still the case with the open adCenter sign-up today and annoyed one of my readers Paul Holstein, as well. Firefox users also get treated to a warning that Firefox is "unable to verify the identity of adcenter.msn.com as a trusted site" if they try to enter adCenter. Paul came across a similar but more serious warning that could alienate Firefox users, one that may appear if advertisers make use of adCenter's conversion tracking script on their own pages.

Here's what Paul emailed me:

Did you know that MSN ad center is not Firefox compliant? This should come as no surprise but the kicker is that the conversion tracking is not compliant either. Therefore, any merchant using the conversion tracking script will run into problems with their Firefox customers.

When they purchase something, they will be told that the merchant is pretending to be r.microsoft.com. Needless to say, this will be a problem for at least 10% of a merchant's customers.

We called MSN and spoke to them. Their official solution is that we should switch all our customer service reps to IE6 and alert our customers that they should only use IE6 to purchase from us. Hmm, that doesn't sound like a practical solution to me.

To be clear, if you're using the conversion tracking script that MSN adCenter provides, those visiting pages with this script may see this warning pop-up:

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Here's the actual email one of Paul's colleagues was sent from MSN adCenter's support team:

It is my understanding that the customer service reps for your company are experiencing an issue when trying to place orders for customers, mainly due to a Security Certificate appearing on their screens, which announces that "unable to verify the identity of *.r.msn.com as a trusted site." I understand that you have concerns regarding customers who might see this certificate and come to a conclusion that your company's website is not a true site. I would be more than happy to assist you in alleviating those concerns.

To summarize our phone conversation, I would like you to use IE6 as a browser, clear cache and cookies, and add MSN adCenter as a trusted site. Furthermore; conversion tracking not only needs to be disabled, but also "commented out" on your website, if Firefox is still used.

If your CSRs still encounter this issue, I would appreciate if you could reply back to this email with screenshots of the error message they receive.

We appreciate your patience and perseverance during this time.

Paul's colleague also gave him this further rundown on the discussion:

I explained to her that we could technically do that for our CSR?s machines? "BUT? what about our customers." She promptly replied, "? they won?t call you?? At which point I sighed and sat back in my chair, "No they won?t call us, our web site just informed them that we are a hoax and are probably trying to steal their confidential information."

At this point there was an awkward pause for about 5 seconds?.. then she replied, "Well if they do call you could tell them to switch to IE6 because its completely compatible with MSN ad center. And if they get the error you could inform them that if they clear their cookies and their cache and set MSN ad center as a trusted site, then they should be alright." The worst part is she wasn?t joking? I just sighed and said "Okay." With a chuckle.

She proceeded to ask me questions as I disabled the module from our web site. Her final question being "would you say that I satisfactorily solved your problem today?? at which point I paused for a few short seconds and replied ?Let?s just say it?s not your fault?? at least we both got a chuckle out of that.

Want to comment or discuss? Turns out, we've had this come up on our Search Engine Watch Forums back in December, in our MSN adCenter & Conversion Tracking Warnings In Firefox discussion. Please comment in that, and I'll also see if I can get someone from MSN to comment more on the issue.

Postscript: MSN's since posted to our thread and also sent this statement:

We are aware that MSN adCenter is currently not compatible with certain web browsers such as Safari, Firefox, and the latest Internet Explorer Beta (IE7). We are currently testing adCenter using multiple browsers. As compatibility grows we will announce this to the public. Meanwhile, we would like to apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.

MSN also said it is still checking on the issues with tracking.


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