5 Areas Where adCenter Beats AdWords

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.

search partner exclusion


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.

Ad-Group-Level Settings

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.

ad group settings


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.

RAIS results


Customer Service

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.

pixel length variation



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.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Microsoft: Bing Ads | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is Senior Manager of Client Services at PPC Associates.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536076017 Cliff Hawk

    Hi Mike,

    Do you know when adCenter will launch sitelinks?  I was told it would be August.  Thanks!


  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hey Cliff

    I’m not 100% sure on the full release of sitelinks in adCenter, but I know it’s currently in beta. I’m sure it’s something they’ll get rolled out to everyone soon!

  • http://www.moviein3d.net/ Caitlin Roberts

    Adsense has an extremely poor customer service, the kind that sends you emails from a “noreply” address and sends you copy and paste emails saying your account has been terminated.

    I would like to call on everyone here to never give feedback to Google, if they can’t be bothered replying to people then people should not be bothered giving them any kind of reply/feedback either.

  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hi Caitlin, 

    Good point – I don’t have much experience with the publisher side, but what little I do has been certainly under-whelming. It wouldn’t surprise me if AdSense support was not available in any capacity for most. Due to things like this, I think it’s very possible Google loses some publishers to other content networks over time. 

    At about 500k+ in spend per month on adwords, there’s usually pretty good service from Google. However, I’ve got clients who are spending in the solid six figures monthly with no support outside of the general line (866-2-Google)! The phone support is okay, but there is really no level ‘depth’ available because this support team doesn’t have knowledge of individual accounts. Even the best products require support teams, and I think Google has relied a bit too much on their product. 

    I can’t imagine how bad things for SEOs! At least Google takes SEMs out for a nice dinner every now and then :)

    As a final note on Y! support – it doesn’t matter if our client is spending $500/month, or $300k, our rep does the same great job. 

  • http://twitter.com/sudipseo Sudip

    I was searching for the release time of sitelinks in adCenter but did not get yet.

  • Pat Grady

    Customer service remains an issue everywhere. Understand your Y vs M twist here, but as such, hard to “count” it as a “beats”.

  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hey Sam

    That’s awesome – after submitting this, I can’t believe I didn’t put something in there about targeting the partners separately. Good call. I promise I submitted this topic long before your post! Great minds think alike perhaps? :)

  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hi Sudip

    I’d except them to be released fully rather soon. They are currently still in beta, and you’ve got be a pretty big spender to get an invite.


  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    I think, at the minimum, Y! reps can provide more information than Google reps. Google reps can provide 3rd party data, but that’s not a big win in my book (though I do like hitwise quite a bit!). Additionally, I like that we have a single point of contact for ALL our accounts, regardless of size, whereas at Google you’ve got be spending at least 2+Million per year to get noticed. Where else does a customer spend that type of coin and still have call into some general help line for assistance!

  • Yugam


    In Ad center only customer service is the best part otherwise it’s third class. I’ll share one incident with you. I was running ads in ad center. One day its showing me 2 conversion and when I checked the keyword, my eyes was opened at that time you know why? because there was no clicks and impression but it showing me 2 conversion. I chat with ad center guy and he accepted that and said me that “Sir, it’s glitch in our system”

    After that I closed all my campaigns and I never use ad center.

  • http://twitter.com/searchgeeky Subha Ganesh

    Could have also been latency, its not usual that people convert on the same day, but cookie if stored as last click, might assign the conversion to that keyword on the day of conversion, you dont have to have clicks on that day for conversion latency reporting. I am not sure whether this was the issue for you, as the information is only top level, but this is assumtion with the provided information.

  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hi Yugam

    The adCenter pixel isn’t like the Google pixel. Google’s pixel is day of click, so what you outlined isn’t possible on AdWords. adCenter, however, is day of sale. So, if somenoe clicked two days ago, and converted today, it’d register for today. So, it was actally not a glitch.

    You should try adCenter again :)



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