7 ways Microsoft adCenter failed on a single day

April 10, 2011

I tried to set up an advertising campaign for MobileNoter via Microsoft adCenter recently. The idea was pretty cool. I wanted to put an ad into office.live.com pages. It should be context sensitive. For example, when there is a word “Onenote” on a page, our ad would display, offering to work with Onenote notes on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Another idea was to display similar ad on the tablet devices. These two properties seemed to be very relevant for MobileNoter advertising. However, I was to a big surprise. Things seemed to be so weird that I turned to the adCenter support to ensure I wasn’t missing something obvious. Below is the list of things that failed with Microsoft adCenter, including some Q&A with their support:

1. Cannot create graphics ads

Question (me): I have no option to create a graphics ad. I tried it for both keyword targeting and network/site targeting.

Answer (support): At this time we only have support for text ads.

It turned out that you can place graphics ads only if your monthly ad budget is over $10K, but the process would be manual, i.e. not through the automated interface of the adCenter.

2. No way of knowing what’s inside Microsoft Media Network

Question: What sites are included into Microsoft Media Network? Is there a list anywhere that I can take a look?

Answer: Unfortunately there is no list available of what sites are include in (sic) the Microsoft Media Network.

3. No way of knowing the sites that display adCenter ads

Question: What are specific sites that can be selected to display ads on (when you select sites, not networks)? No matter what I enter into the box, when I click “View available placements”, the system doesn’t find any suitable site for me. Is there a way to see the list of sites?

Answer: Unfortunately there is no list available of what sites that can be included in the available placements; you have to use the trial and error method of discovering these sites.

4. Cannot combine keyword and site targeting

Question: Is there any way to combine keyword and network/site targeting? I would think it’s a great way to increase ad performance.

Answer: At this time there is no way to combine keyword and network/site targeting.

5. adCenter plain crashes on Firefox, doesn’t work on Safari either

Whenever I go to http://advertising.microsoft.com/using Firefox, I get the following:

Application Error

Sorry, you have encountered an application error. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please try again later.

When using Safari, it gives a polite message to go away, because your browser is not supported.

One would wonder why Microsoft can’t get a simple web application to work under different browsers.

6. Cannot select target mobile devices

When I tried to setup a campaign specifically for tablets, the only option I have is ““. You know guys, this is not good enough. I need options like to select iOS, Android, smartphones or tablets. I don’t want our ads to show up on Nokia “smartphones”, which are totally irrelevant for MobileNoter.

7. Outright scam ads served on Microsoft adCenter

When I go to live.com, most of the time it shows me an ad, which tells me that my IP address won something! If you already guessed it was a scam, you were right. The ad leads to a site, which offers to do some little SMS magic and make me eligible for winning an iPad. What the site also says in a hardly readable font is that I will purchase a subscription and be paying about $2.00 per day. Pay them money every day for a chance to win an iPad, good deal! Most of the time people who are tricked into this forget about the subscription later. One day they remember about it and discover that they already paid enough so that they could actually buy an iPad for the money. They try to cancel the subscription only to find out that it can’t be done for some silly reason, like the site gives them “Application Error”. And how it started? With an ad served by Microsoft adCenter. Very nice job, guys.


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