AdCenter Announces Improvements, Search Engine Marketers Yawn

In relatively quiet fashion, it was announced last week that Microsoft AdCenter plans to roll out a new interface in the next four to six weeks. The list of improvements seems nice but the reaction has been, to say the least, muted.

In spending some admittedly brief time in the AdCenter beta site, it seems that the improvements are for the better. Among the highlights are improved navigation between ad groups, the ability to easily export data from most screens, and, it seems, the ability to use the ‘Back’ button in my browser.

The biggest and best news about the update is, without a doubt, the mass import function. As compared to the bulk upload template in Yahoo’s Panama interface, AdCenter’s spreadsheet is downright diminutive: Only 11 columns of data, and not a convoluted campaign, keyword, or ad ID to be found.

Of course, these spreadsheets can’t be judged until a marketer actually gets in and starts working with them – Panama’s templates have proven to be, at various times, maddeningly frustrating, mildly annoying, and fantastically convenient.

So while, on its face, these improvements seem to indicate that AdCenter is on the upswing, the fact is that they won’t show any real value to search marketers until MSN as a search engine starts to slice into Google’s market share. At less than 10 percent of total US search queries during the month of March (according to Hitwise), MSN is likely to remain an inconvenience for the average search marketer. A high-converting, less-inconvenient inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless.