It’s Time to Give Microsoft adCenter a Try

If you’re like a lot of PPC advertisers, you’re probably spending most of your time on Google AdWords. That’s because, in all likelihood, you’re getting most of your traffic from AdWords. But if you haven’t used Microsoft adCenter recently, it’s time to take another look.

Microsoft adCenter has been around nearly as long as AdWords, in one form or another. Historically, though, advertisers have found significantly lower traffic levels on adCenter.

Not only was adCenter traffic low, but it was also quite painful for advertisers to use the interface. Pages were slow to load, and it was difficult to perform everyday tasks such as bid updates and ad copy changes. 

For many advertisers, low traffic combined with usability challenges led them to abandon adCenter.

A lot has changed in the last couple of months, though; much of it due to advertiser feedback.

Responding to User Requests

One of the great things about using adCenter is their customer support. They’re extremely responsive to advertiser feature requests, and have reps who actively participate in social media, including Facebook and Twitter. And PPC pros have been known to keep the feature requests coming!

One of the most common requests was to be able to use adCenter outside of Internet Explorer and the PC environment. Really, PPC should be platform-agnostic – after all, people don’t just search using IE on a PC. Finally, in February, adCenter added the ability to use the UI on a Mac, and also added support for all browsers, including Chrome. So if you’ve been holding out because you’re a Mac user, now you have no excuse!

Another common advertiser request was to make the adCenter UI and desktop tool more like, well, AdWords and AdWords Editor. I truly believe adCenter wanted to be different, and in doing so created a UI that was different from its competitors.

Unfortunately, for better or worse, most of us just didn’t have the time to learn two different interfaces. Frustration in not being able to find what we wanted, combined with slow page load times, led many advertisers to abandon adCenter.

adcenter-tabs

Recently, adCenter greatly improved page load times in the online UI. They’ve also changed the functionality to mirror AdWords, with tabs for campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords. Columns are customizable, so you can view the data that is most meaningful to you.

The biggest win, in addition to the faster UI, is the newly improved adCenter Desktop tool. Desktop was significantly upgraded in March, to the point that it’s almost the same as Adwords Editor in terms of usability. Features such as negative keywords, bid changes in bulk, and even the “download stats” function are right where you expect them to be.

adcenter-import

Desktop also has an amazing new import tool. Yes, you can actually import campaigns directly from AdWords, without exporting a file!

This is huge news for people who’ve wanted to expand to adCenter, but didn’t want to spend time exporting, editing, and re-uploading spreadsheets.

adcenter-import-wizard

You'll need your Adwords user name, password, and account number - once entered, just follow the steps in Desktop and you’re off and running! I love this easy, useful feature.

Time is no longer an excuse not to use adCenter. Once you’ve downloaded the Desktop tool, you can copy your AdWords campaigns and be up and running in less than 15 minutes!

AdCenter ROI

All the usability improvements in the world don’t matter if the campaigns don’t get results. Advertisers frequently complained that although ROI from adCenter was excellent, the overall volume was just too low to justify the time. I decided to put that to the test by expanding some of our campaigns in adCenter.

As with any test, the results were interesting and enlightening. The adCenter campaigns had better ROI across the board than Adwords – no surprise there. And the B2C campaigns saw significantly lower volume than Adwords: about $1 spent in adCenter for every $100 spent in Adwords. The difference was even more dramatic in non-US campaigns, where adCenter search volume seems to be nearly non-existent.

The real surprise came from the B2B campaigns. These are highly competitive keywords, with CPCs running in the $10 to $30 range. For these campaigns, adCenter actually drove more traffic than AdWords, with a significantly better ROI. We tripled our lead volume in just a couple short weeks.

The Verdict

Now that adCenter is so much faster and easier to use, there’s really no reason not to give it a shot. After all, who doesn’t want incremental conversions at a great ROI?