Inside The Big 3 Search Engine Marketing Desktop Editors

Still managing your paid search marketing accounts through the online interfaces? If so, you’re about to discover more efficient ways to work offline with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft desktop tools and revolutionize your paid search account management.

Desktop tools download complete paid search accounts into an offline management tool for easier editing. Bulk updates, searching within the campaigns and copy/paste functionality are all much easier in a desktop tool than the online paid search interfaces. Additionally, offline editors provide a risk free method for making account edits, once changes are made in the tool, marketers have the ability to check their work, search for common mistakes, use the tool to validate the changes and provide instant feedback on issues before uploading to the live paid search account.

Google AdWords editor

The first desktop tool released by a search engine was Google’s AdWords Editor. AdWords Editor likely has the most robust features set of all desktop tools and pioneered the feature to cut and paste between the editor tool and Excel. The ability to export or copy campaign information into Excel, for faster and easier editing and reorganization, and then re-import or copy into the desktop tool for upload to the search engine marketing account is a massive efficiency gain for search engine marketers. The ability to copy and paste account information within the tool is also a major time saving feature.

Additionally, AdWords Editor has options to view account statistics for whole or parts of the account. Ad text testing benefits greatly from this feature as marketers can view stats on ad performance and make quick additions and deletions in the editor.

Keyword research tools are also available in AdWords Editor, streamlining the process of adding keywords to the proper AdGroup with a simple drag and drop. Also duplicate keywords are easily found through a feature in the Tools menu.

There are many more features within the AdWords Editor of varying usefulness to search engine marketers, the best way to learn more is to download the tool and starting playing with it. Yahoo and Microsoft’s desktop tools contain most of the core AdWords Editor functionality with some unique features.

Yahoo Search Marketing desktop

One major disadvantage of Yahoo’s desktop tool is that it does not have the functionality to copy and paste between Excel and the desktop tool. This failing cuts down significantly on the usefulness of the desktop tool. Copy and paste functionality works within the tool, for example, you can copy and paste an Ad Group. Exporting and importing account information is also available, but more cumbersome than the direct copy and paste ability of other desktop tools.

The other significant failing of the Yahoo Search Marketing Desktop is the complete lack of negative keywords management. Negative keywords don’t even appear in the account information in the tool. Nor are keyword research tools available.

In general, the Yahoo tool is clunky compared to Google or Microsoft, there’s limited inline change functionality, most changes need to be made in editing panes. Response time of the tool is slower, particularly in downloading account information. If you have a good Yahoo account manager willing to post updates, or you are comfortable with the online importing and exporting available, at this point, those are likely more efficient processes than the desktop tool.

NOTE: Yahoo PR sent this after this column was published:

We believe Kelly may have referenced an older version of our tool …. We would like to clarify our current feature offering available to our advertisers.

  • Bulk editing-Easily make mass changes to settings such as statuses, match types and budgets, all within an intuitive interface.
    • Increase or decrease multiple keyword bids.
    • Save time by exporting your view of keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns into Excel.
    • Revert selected changes for better peace of mind.
    • Cut, copy, or paste campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads.
  • Campaign transfer-Import your third-party campaign data in one easy step.
  • Account performance statistics-Retrieve status and statistics for your account’s impressions, clicks, CTR, cost, ad quality scores, along with other information.
  • Keyword research-Find relevant terms that may help increase your ROI based on URLs or your seed terms.
  • Find/replace & search functionality- Find and replace text in ads, keywords, ad groups and campaigns or use filters to search for specific account information.

Also, we plan to release a new version of Yahoo! Search Marketing Desktop in Q2 2010. The enhanced tool will let advertisers:

  • Manage excluded keywords: Make changes in bulk and add more of them from third-party accounts or through our keyword suggestion engine.
  • Easily switch between accounts: Quickly manage multiple accounts for easier comparison, duplication and more.
  • Download specific accounts and campaigns: Save time by downloading only what you need.

To download our current version of Yahoo! Search Marketing, please visit

Microsoft adCenter Desktop

For those familiar with Microsoft Office products, the AdCenter Desktop is remarkably similar in design and function. Toolbars and icons are consistent and customizable, making the desktop tool user friendly for first timers.

Kudos to Microsoft for having the only desktop editor with built-in find and replace functionality, saving marketers the process of leveraging Excel for simple find and replace tasks. Additionally, the AdCenter Desktop accepts imports of campaigns in a variety of search engine marketing formats including Google AdWords and Yahoo, which makes for easy campaign portability and re-use between search engine marketing accounts.

Will desktop editors replace online SEM management?

As search engine marketing becomes increasingly complicated from an account management perspective, offline desktop tools provide a simpler view and more robust editing functionality than traditional online paid search management interfaces. More search engine marketers will be leveraging these tools and migrating away from online interfaces to realize the efficiency gains.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is the Vice President, Marketing at Viator,the leading provider of destination activities worldwide, and also blogs on in-house search engine marketing issues at

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  • MadeWillis

    Google’s tool is far superior to the others. And yes, they do actually have a search and replace function at the ad and keyword levels. You can find it at the bottom under the comments box.

    adCenter’s tool freezes quite often and just closes and there is no copy and paste functionality. I have connectivity problems all the time and sometimes I can’t even download stats. Thus far it doesn’t save me anywhere near the time Adwords Editor does. It’s really good for bulk uploads, however. Hoping the bugs are fixed before the merger since I’ll be spending more time using it then.

    Yahoo’s tool…better than adCenter’s, but still slower than the others. Account downloads take a long time. Bulk uploads are simple, as well as converting 3rd party files.

    All-in-all these tools do save time and I appreciate their creation. Hopefuly

  • NWTiger54

    There’s no doubt Editor is much superior to Yahoo & adCenter’s desktop applications. In fact, I reviewed and compared the three in terms of general aspects a PPC manager typically requires when it comes to managing an account a few weeks ago.

    I think it’s somewhat important to also think about why Yahoo released their own desktop application when adCenter will be the “hub” for controlling Yahoo PPC near the end of 2010 due to the alliance formed between the two. Is Yahoo’s desktop app simply going to disappear? I mean honestly, why spend the money on developing it when it won’t be used after 2010… unless of course they have other plans for it?

  • DevonR

    As MadeWillis mentioned adwords editor does in fact have a find and replace function which is very easy to use. In addition to that the append feature is great. It allows you to add text to the beginning or end of any desired field. This can remove the need for some concatenation formulas in excel. Adwords Editor is by far the most powerful and user friendly of all three.

  • morgster

    I don’t know Google’s tool inside out though I hear it works pretty well and does what it’s supposed to do.

    As for Microsoft’s, I get mixed feedback, but I think they have some bugs to weed out.

    Maybe Kelly was reviewing an old version of Yahoo’s tool here but my version has find and replace, copy and paste to excel and a pretty innovative keyword research tool that narrows down your most relevant keyword matches. It also allows you to import third party formats. It’s been a while coming, but I think they’re done a pretty good job and it’s wrong to tell people not to use it.

    I do agree that these tools provide simpler, faster ways to interact with your search accounts and I’m sure we’ll see further development.


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