Microsoft adCenter: For SEM and SEO, Part 2

In part one of my interview with Microsoft’s European adCenter community manager, Mel Carson, Carson answers questions about adCenter and how it benefits searchers, advertisers, SEO (define) professionals, and Web site owners.

Carson provides some tips and tricks for getting the best out of your adCenter campaigns and how adCenter data can help SEO campaigns.

Shari Thurow: What should advertisers think about when setting up a campaign in adCenter?

Mel Carson: AdCenter’s account structure includes both campaigns and ad groups, so as with Google and Yahoo campaigns, it’s important to be as granular as possible with how you structure your keywords and ads. More granularity means more control over keywords, bids, and ads [and] helps you make tighter decisions around targeting — geo, demographic, or time of day/day of week. The tighter the targeting, the less wastage; less wastage equals more efficient expenditure, thus resulting in better ROI.

The system is considered very comprehensive in its capabilities but is also seen as quite complex. It’s been built for advertisers who want to get a small campaign up and running quickly, but also for the marketers who want to get even more bang for their buck. If you’re willing to invest a bit more time to utilize all the functionality, you can build a very successful campaign.

We’ve made it easy for advertisers to import their campaigns and ad groups from other PPC engines via a spreadsheet straight into adCenter. But if you’re new to the tool, we provide a service called QuickLaunch, where customers can get dedicated support to get their campaigns uploaded and live really quickly. We’ve had really great feedback about the program, as we have our media specialists on hand to answer any questions, so I do encourage advertisers to give it a try.

ST: That import via spreadsheet functionality is fantastic. As many ClickZ readers already know, clients like to see what’s going on in their campaigns as quickly and easily as possible. Spreadsheets are an easy way to show them (since everyone has spreadsheet software), and it’s so easy to spot trends and sort items with the spreadsheet software, perfect for getting ideas for future optimization efforts. What ad characteristics provide the best results for advertisers?

MC: Well, there’s the obvious ones, like calls to action, prices, information that might differentiate your ad/product offering from your competitor’s, but there are filters, too. By putting text in your ad that will stop a user clicking on it if they’re not a likely to lead to a sale saves you money. Finance companies often use this tactic when advertising secured loans, stating in the ad “homeowners only” or “no students,” so they don’t waste clicks on people that have a high probability of not passing the credit check.

AdCenter also has a unique feature called Dynamic Text Insertion. It enables advertisers to not only dynamically insert the keyword into the ad but also define other parameters, like prices, destinations, or other unique information pertaining to that keyword and product. AdCenter makes the ad up on the fly based on the parameters you define, resulting in more targeted and relevant copy displayed on the search results page.

ST: The Dynamic Text Insertion feature is also great for when SEO copywriters have writer’s block for writing effective title and meta tags. How should advertisers approach landing pages when adding destination URLs to their campaigns?

MC: You’d surprised how many advertisers still send users to home pages and not specific products or services relating to the search. It really helps to take the time to have a targeted landing page. It’s proven to boost click-to-sale ratios, but also the user is likely to have a better experience with your site and your brand because you didn’t make them have to work too hard to find what they were looking for. It’s also a good reflection on us.

We also released an improvement to the system called Quality-Based Ranking. It’s designed to improve the relevancy of results seen by Live Search users by assessing how accurate the relationship between the ad, landing page, and search query is. Keep your landing page as relevant to the ad and keyword search as possible, and you should be rewarded.

ST: What I really like about Quality-Based Ranking is it shows a perfect snapshot of search usability. When people type a set of keywords in a search query, the ideal situation is for them to see their query words highlighted in search results and to click the hyperlink that delivers them to the exact information they’re searching for. All of these adCenter features are perfect for pretesting page elements for organic SEO.

On the flip side, there are some not-so-ethical search engine marketers. Click fraud is always an issue with pay-per-click search engine advertising. If an advertiser suspects click fraud, how should he/she report it?

MC: We take the issue of invalid clicks very seriously. In fact, a recent release of adCenter delivered a new reporting capability allows advertisers to see values of low-quality clicks, impressions, and conversions for their campaigns. If an advertiser suspects anything is awry, check out these reports first and then contact our support team, who’ll investigate.

ST: At your session, “Big Ideas for Small Sites & Small Budgets,” at Search Engine Strategies Toronto, your big advice to advertisers was, “Keep it relevant!” Can you expand on that?

MC: I could have said any number of things, but relevancy between query, keyword, ad, and landing page really is king for many reasons. It provides the user with a good experience of not only the search engine but also the end Web site, because they find what they want on the site with little fuss and bother. It makes the search engine well thought of because they’re taking the user quickly and efficiently to where they want to go. And the advertiser is rewarded because relevancy ensures lower costs and thus better ROI. Everyone’s a winner.

Thanks, Mel. In the final part, he talks about his role in the adCenter community team and how it supports adCenter customers through on- and offline programs and activities.

Join us for SES Travel on July 26-27, in Seattle, WA.

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