3 Things To Know Before Switching To MSN AdCenter

Well, it’s finally here – this week, Yahoo and Microsoft finally opened up the transition process to move existing Yahoo Search Marketing accounts to Microsoft AdCenter management. If you have a Yahoo account, you probably had to click a button sometime this week indicating your intentions for the future of your account. A lot of you probably already have experience with Microsoft, but if you’re new to the platform there are three things you should be aware of before you complete your transition.

  1. Keyword Match Types – Yahoo has always been the odd man out when it comes to keyword match types. “Standard” and “Advanced” aren’t the industry standard, and could be a bit vague and confusing at times. Fortunately, Microsoft works with more familiar definitions of keyword match types. In AdCenter, you have exact match, phrase match, and broad match. Exact match means that your ads will show only when a user enters the exact keyword you’re bidding on. Phrase match means that your ad will show when a user enters the exact keyword you are bidding on, plus any additional words before or after that particular phrase. And broad match means that Microsoft will show ads on queries that it finds somewhat relevant to the keyword you’re bidding on. If you’ve worked in Google, you’re already familiar with these definitions. Yahoo match types kind of sucked anyway – good riddance!

  2. No More “Assists” – Alright, this one I’m actually going to miss. Yahoo was the only major search player that regularly included “assists” in their search marketing stats. An assist is when a user clicks on an ad after searching on a keyword, leaves your site, then returns and converts under a different keyword. The last keyword gets the conversion attributed to it, but the first one gets the assist. Analyzing assists is useful because it lets you determine the value of certain keywords that may seem like they’re not doing too well. For example, you may get a lot of assists on a keyword like “barbecue grill reviews,” since a user is still in their research phrase and not ready to convert. Even though that keyword might not be converting, it is definitely generating business by building that initial awareness of your site. AdCenter does not have this reporting capability yet – hopefully they’ll be adding it in soon as they appropriate Yahoo’s search marketing technology.

  3. Change Your Conversion Tracking! – With all this excitement in the transition, you’re bound to forget something during the change. Don’t forget to change your conversion tracking snippets! If you’ve been using Yahoo conversion tracking to keep tabs on your metrics, the same system won’t work once you’re using AdCenter. AdCenter has a different tracking snippet that is just as easy to install. Just go to your HTML code on your conversion page, remove the Yahoo code, and paste in the Microsoft code. It’s an easy task to do, but just as easy to forget.

Even though the transition is starting now, Yahoo traffic won’t be fully directing to Bing for a while now. Microsoft/Yahoo is gradually sending a small percentage of traffic to Bing, and then ramping up the percentage as time goes on. This gives you plenty of time to read up on Microsoft AdCenter if you’re not already familiar. But don’t put it off – this stuff is happening now, and you don’t want to be left clueless when the time comes.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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4 Responses to 3 Things To Know Before Switching To MSN AdCenter

  1. Didn’t even think about losing Assists. At least we get to use AdCenter desktop.

  2. Sarah Wilson says:

    Before you switch to adCenter, you might want to use an adCenter credit to start an account with extra money. adCenter gives these credits to you one time for you to use when you first become an adCenter customer, so if your account is older than something like two weeks, it doesn’t normally work. Maybe a converted account is considered new, I don’t know, but I would just start an account first with the credit just to be safe. You can the credits on eBay at like 75% off.

  3. Hi Shawn,

    My name is Tina Kelleher, I manage the content on the adCenter Blog over on the Microsoft Advertising Community site… nice to “meet” you :-) .

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the paid search transition and where your concerns regarding it lie. Because we want to ensure questions and concerns are addressed in a timely manner, we do quite a bit of social media listening. As a result, your post was brought to the attention of our development teams and they asked me to pop on over here to deliver some good news to you and your readers:

    First, Microsoft adCenter WILL be offering keyword-level assists. We’re bringing a whole new analytics experience to market this fall – one that is very similar to the Yahoo! Full Analytics product. Advertisers will be able to track multiple conversion goals, to create customized conversion “steps,” and much more. Keyword-level assists is on that list of new features! This functionality doesn’t launch until later this month, but it is coming.

    Second, for the next few months, no retagging of sites will be required. We’re trying to make this transition to adCenter as easy as possible for Yahoo! customers. One of the things we’re doing is enabling a seamless transition of your conversion settings from Yahoo! to adCenter. When using the transition tool, customers will have the option to transfer their Yahoo! analytics settings to adCenter. We’ll be able to record an advertiser’s conversion easily, as long as they opt in to this experience during migration. At some time in the future, then, retagging will be required, but not for several months.

    Here is a blog post about some of the upcoming changes: http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/blogs/advertiser/archive/2010/08/27/conversion-tracking-5-improvements-scheduled-for-the-fall-release-of-microsoft-advertising-adcenter.aspx.

    Please feel free to share this information with your readers in upcoming posts, and if you have any feedback or feature requests, we have a thread in our forums that the adCenter development teams are monitoring on a regular basis: http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/forums/t/66966.aspx

    Thanks! :-)

    Tina Kelleher
    Online Community Content Manager

  4. Scott Clark says:

    Excellent post.

    I’m finding that extended broad match has changed my way of thinking of long tail PPC, and really miss the same on AdCenter. It also makes porting a bitch. You can’t just port things and remove the “+” from your requirement keywords, you have to really think about whether the adgroup structure is still solid.

    I’m pretty sure Adcenter will deploy extended broad match – I just wish they’d do it earlier rather than later. I have dozens of accounts / campaigns to port. :-)