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Understanding MSN AdCenter

With MSN adCenter accepting new publisher applications and trying to catch up with the strides that Google and Yahoo have made in their contextual ad programs, you really should consider giving them a try and compare the results to your regular PPC ad program.

It is hard to ignore any offering of this scale from the Redmond giant and they’ve done their homework before coming to the table.

They were plagued by previous reviews of the backend that didn’t look promising as beta testers reported in that controls were confusing, overly complex and buggy.

This compounded by the fact that the early versions of adCenter were incompatible with Firefox and thus unable to track the ad performance of the estimated 20% market share of the open source browser, created some doubt in advertiser’s minds as to the viability of MSN’s service. Their other points come up strong though and make adCenter a possible Adsense contender.

MSN claims to have the upper hand on Google and YPN on their targeting and analytics due to the demographics they collect from the users of their other services. They offer highly targeted options for advertisers based on:

* Geographic location

* Gender

* Time of day/week

These targeting options are combinable allowing advertisers to put their ads directly in front of the desired audience and in theory reduce advertiser payouts for unqualified traffic. Not a bad claim by Microsoft, especially since they’re being backed up by recent statistics that as them leading in the area of customer conversions over Google and Yahoo.

With the purchase of DeepMatrix earlier this year Microsoft is on course to expand their current analytics offering sometime in 2007. DeepMatrix specialized in traffic analysis and measurements and should give an edge over Yahoo and Google in this area. That still remains to be seen though. Currently their analytics package covers some of the areas of interest to advertisers and publishers alike. These include:

* Conversion tracking

* Customizable campaign reports

* Invalid click identification (something Google needs to implement before banning publishers)

* Ad tracker to measure ad effectiveness and reach

* Web site optimization

With these tools in their arsenal Microsoft can become a serious contender in the PPC advertising market. What remains to be seen is whether they can cobble together all these individual utilities into a backend solutions suite which is easy to utilize and manage.

The initial reports on this weren’t good but they are making strides so look out for more on them in the future. Advertisers already have the benefit of getting a better return for their advertising dollars.

Now all that remains is getting over the fact that half the world hates Microsoft…but thats another story.

Chris Mootoo runs a blog dedicated to Adsense and similar contextual PPC programs, SEO tips, hints and resources. Check it out at AdsenseShack.com.

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