To be honest, there isn’t much about adCenter that I like. Their UI is more ‘cool’ than functional. Their editor tool isn’t worth the space on my desktop, and their keyword research tools sometimes seem to be from the Stone Age. If I never had to login to adCenter again, it might be too soon. Throw on top of that the minimal search volume compared to adWords, and poor content network, and sometimes it seems like the stars are aligning so that you don’t even have to feel bad about neglecting the platform.
That being said, adCenter has some really neat features that Google hasn’t adopted, no matter how obvious they might be. Here’s how to use them to your advantage.
Search Partner Exclusion
Most of the new accounts I run across have search partners shut off (on both adCenter and AdWords). With AdWords, I can certainly see how that it’s an ‘all or nothing’ scenario. adCenter, on the hand, offers search partner exclusion, much in the way AdWords offers content partner exclusions.
Search partner exclusion is pretty simple. Within campaign settings, simply copy your list of search exclusions to ‘exclusions’ under advanced settings.
You may also apply search exclusions in bulk via the editor tool, or the UI’s “make bulk changes” feature.
In order to create your list, use the ‘publisher performance’ report in the ‘reports’ tab. Here you’ll get a list of the adCenter search partners, and you can determine which to make negatives.
Keep in mind this is still search traffic, so must of the time your performance on these sites should be pretty good; however, there are certainly a fair amount of borderline scam search partners operating with a fair amount of volume.
All right, I admit it: most of the time, dealing with ad-group-level settings is incredibly ‘clunky.’ But there are some really cool use cases.
Ad rotation certainly stands out. I’m certainly in the minority, but with a fair degree of regularity I use AdWords ‘optimize for clicks’ or ‘optimize for conversions’ (usually the latter) rotation settings. As such, when I want to run a test in only one ad group, it creates a bit of a quandary, because I’m forced to switch everything to ‘rotate.’
Not so for adCenter, which offers ad rotation as an ad-group-level attribute.
While ad rotation is the setting that stands out the most, essentially every setting can be applied at the ad group level on adCenter. Outside of negatives, and the new ‘flexible reach’ options, AdWords doesn’t really offer unique ad-group-level customization.
Branded Search Terms
A few months ago our heralded CEO wrote about protecting brand terms. As you might expect, opinions were a bit divided – should only TM owners be able to bid on their own branded terms, or should it be an open auction system? I can see both sides of the coin, and apparently so can adCenter. The answer seems to Rich Ads in Search (RAIS).
With RAIS, bidders apply to have ‘rich ads’ for their branded queries. The result is guaranteed sole top position, and a bunch cool of add-ons and different formats. With this, competitor terms are relegated to the right rail, so if someone is searching for a brand term to find that brand’s competitors, they’ll find them off to the side.
If someone is searching for a brand term in order to end up on that brand’s website, they can’t miss the ad, and they won’t be distracted or tricked into clicking on a competitor’s.
It’s hard to argue that Google has poor customer service, but at the minimum I can say that it’s inconsistent. The same can be said for adCenter. If you’ve been given a ‘Microsoft’ rep, my condolences. However, if you’ve been given a Yahoo! Rep, take a moment to moment to give thanks. Yahoo! Reps crush AdWords reps time and time again.
Not only will Yahoo! do a great job on reactive issues – ‘billing,’ ‘disapprovals,’ etc. – but they’re more than willing to jump into the nitty gritty. Perhaps it’s a result of the product itself being pretty poor, but the reps are great at creating, editing, and adjusting campaigns for those who ask.
In addition to helping you manage your campaigns, they’ve got a lot of internal flexibilities. Our reps will help us create QBRs for clients, do research on the keywords competitors are buying, and provide share-of-voice information.
Best of all, Yahoo! reps aren’t salesmen. Google reps, on the other hand, certainly are. Certainly Yahoo! reps are there to help you grow your spend; at the minimum, they’ll take the time to understand your business objectives. Google extends no such curiosity, and their reps simply push around the latest buzzwords in order to help rack up your bill.
Pixel Length Variation
This is a huge problem with the AdWords pixel. AdWords pixels have 30-day cookie windows, and there are no other options available (though you can adjust the time frame for which they look for view-through conversions).
While certainly imperfect, the adCenter pixel lets users select from 7-, 15-, 30- or 45-day windows. Of course, a custom time frame would best, but at least adCenter offers some flexibility.
In an ideal word, adCenter and AdWords would be essentially mirrors of one another. It seems like adCenter finally has gotten the message by introducing site links, modified broad match, negative match-type options, and a multitude of other features that Google had previously rolled out.
As an advertiser, that’s a huge win. Not only does it improve our ability to manage across platforms, but it improves the likelihood that we can mirror structures across platforms without sacrificing optimization efficiency.
So far Google, for its part, has failed to take note of the areas where adCenter is winning – though I’d wager that Google will eventually decide to take notice and mirror the additional functionality that adCenter has created. This type of competition certainly benefits the end user, but it remains to be seen if Google will admit where they’ve been beaten to the punch – and do something about it.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.