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April 17, 2007

MSN Gives adCenter A Quality Upgrade

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I guess we know the cause of adCenter’s traffic drop last night — things were being shifted around and revamped to be made super shiny for today. In case you don’t speak Lisa, that means traffic was down because Microsoft was making changes to improve its quality-based ranking system. Don’t worry; you’ll pick up the new language soon. You just have to stick around.

The adCenter blog announced this afternoon that they’ve made several improvements to the ranking algorithm to ensure searchers are seeing only the most high quality ads. Microsoft adCenter Community Team member Mel blogged the system changes were not "radical" but that they would offer an enhancement to Microsoft’s existing relevance and quality guidelines.

The upgrade is somewhat expected after Microsoft’s Brian Boland let us know during last week’s Ads In A Quality Score World session that Microsoft would be announcing some improvements to their pay per click advertising system in the near future. It looks like today’s the day.

Advancements include:

  • Assessing the content of the ad and landing page in relation to the user’s likely intent.
  • Assessing the keywords that an advertiser selects in relation to the advertiser’s landing page content, to confirm that they are substantially relevant to both the landing page and the user’s search query.
  • Trying to ensure that there is substantive content on the landing page to fulfill the user’s query.
  • Assessing the duplicative nature of content in overall search results. In cases where there may be content that is duplicated within search results (including landing pages) Microsoft reserves the right to limit advertising of the duplicate content when it lessens the user experience.

Relevance really is becoming the new buzzword for pay per click advertising, which is a very good thing. It’s not about who has the biggest pay per click budget, it’s about who’s providing the most valuable and relevant ads to users. The engines want advertisers to deliver relevancy through both their keywords and their ads. If you can do that, the engines will see your ad has being valuable to a searcher and you’ll be rewarded by their algorithms.

I don’t have too much experience playing with adCenter or pay per click campaigns (and by that I mean I have none), but from what I heard at SES last week, it sounds like good things are happening.

Brian told audience members that Microsoft pay per click ads have the highest quality converting clicks out of any of the networks, which I did not know. That could be because their network is considerably smaller, but you still have to give them their props. Not to mention, their first place finish in the Google/Yahoo/MSN head to head Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em death match. I mean, c’mon, that’s pretty impressive, right?

Okay, maybe not.

What is impressive though is all the work Microsoft has put into adCenter. Since their launched, they’ve already gone through 5 different releases. Last week Doug Scotland revealed that Microsoft is offering advertisers a chance to play with not-yet-released features including full text search, bulk campaign management and improved navigation. Microsoft is making this more relevant for searchers and easier-to-use for advertisers.

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