Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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Good Night, AdCenter

October 13th, 2008 · 3 Comments

After two years of testing the promises, wishes and hopes of the Microsoft AdCenter team, and thousands of dollars spent to no avail, Digipede is done with Microsoft’s online advertising.

I, CEO of a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, do hereby proclaim my opinion, based on firsthand experience, that Microsoft AdCenter is entirely without value to our company, inferior in every measurable way to competing offerings from Google and even Yahoo, and a time-and-money sink of unusual scope, even for Microsoft.

I ran the campaigns myself, took advantage of consulting and optimization offers, tweaked and twiddled the knobs and dials on all three platforms, spent money on all three platforms, and Microsoft is — third.  Distant third.

I posted about AdCenter more than two years ago, and the improvements since that time have been numerous — and meaningless, from the perspective of actual business performance.  I’ve heard Gates and Ballmer and others brag about newer and better algorithms for their advertising platform more times than I can count, and I’ve seen no improvement in clickthrus from prospective customers.

Microsoft’s search engine is fine — it’s come a long way in the last few years, and is now nearly as good as Google in most ways.   But something is desperately wrong with (a) the ad placement algorithms or (b) the way those ads are displayed or (c) the audience that uses Live Search or (d) all of the above, because the right people click through to us from ads placed by Google, and they don’t from ads placed by Microsoft.

Of additional concern is the apparently defective billing mechanism, which (in my experience) continued to bill my account after all campaigns have been paused.  (OK, possibly I screwed up in some way using the less-than-intuitive AdCenter interface, which I find clumsier than its competitors, and somehow missed pausing something — although I doubt it.)  Last week I finished working through this last minor billing issue with a very helpful and friendly Microsoft representative (I’m screwed, but only out of about $80 — nothing compared to the losses from legitimate bills), and have shut down our account.

Anyone from Microsoft is free to call me about our experience with your online advertising service — I’m at 510-834-3645 ext. 101 — just so long as the call does not present me with new opportunities to use this offering.  We’re done with it.

Tags: Partnering with Microsoft · Usability

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tim Cohn // Oct 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Wow… I had wondered if my experience with adCenter were unique – I guess not.

  • 2 Microsoft-Yahoo coming back to life? — Channel Marker // Oct 13, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    […] “Microsoft AdCenter is entirely without value to our company, inferior in every measurable way to competing offerings from Google and even Yahoo, and a time-and-money sink of unusual scope, even for Microsoft,” he wrote on his blog, Powers Unfiltered. […]

  • 3 john // Oct 13, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I actually have an entirely different take on this issue than Colin, and others who have speculated on the possibility of Microsoft purchasing Yahoo at a greatly reduced price. I think Microsoft should MOVE ON from its third-and-worse place offerings, and FOCUS on its core strengths. GIVE UP on online advertizing — it’s OK. GIVE UP on the Zune — it’ll be fine. GIVE UP on most or all the miscellaneous initiatives that have more to do with chasing some other market leader, and FOCUS on the great products Microsoft has in its core business that still have huge upside potential. Less Google-envy, less Apple-envy — and more resources for Servers and Tools and the enterprise sales teams (and of course, for Partners)!

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