Kevin Johnson, President of Microsoft’s Platform & Services Division, announced the release of the adCenter Desktop Beta during an SMX Advanced keynote speech today. The software application allows advertisers to create, optimize, and manage online campaigns with Microsoft. Previously advertisers were required to manage their campaigns through a web interface, a relatively less efficient means, especially for large or complex campaigns.
Google released a similar product, called AdWords Editor, on January 24, 2006. AdWords Editor has been popular with advertisers and agencies, especially those managing large campaigns because it allows bulk editing of multiple entries and easy movement and copying of campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords within accounts.
Natala Menezes, Product Manager for Microsoft adCenter, said, “Our vision is a desktop client version of adCenter, fully functional, not just an editor.” In addition to the features provided by Google’s AdWords Editor, Microsoft adCenter Desktop also provides tools to help advertisers research and select additional keywords.
Microsoft lags behind Google and Yahoo in market share for pay per click (PPC) advertising. One problem faced by Microsoft has been advertisers’ reluctance to spend the time and effort to develop and expand ad campaigns for Microsoft’s 6.3% of the market, versus Google’s 67.9%. Microsoft hopes that adCenter Desktop will reduce “friction” by making it easier and faster to build Microsoft ad campaigns.
Reducing friction for advertisers is just part of Microsoft’s battle against Google. Yesterday Microsoft announced a deal with HP to provide Microsoft Live search as the default feature on new HP computers. “Search still has a unique value proposition. It is not a commodity today,” said Menezes, who emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to winning a larger share of the search market by providing a better service to users and better quality clicks to advertisers.
Moves by Microsoft to intensify competition against Google are likely to be welcomed by the search marketing industry. Industry analyst Jim Hedger of Webmaster Radio said, “I think most people in the search marketing community supported the Microsoft attempt to acquire Yahoo!, not because it was the best thing for Microsoft or Yahoo!, but because it would create competition in an area where there isn’t any currently. Competition is good. It keeps prices down, refines systems, and keeps all players honest.”
Advertisers in good standing, meaning those who are in compliance with adCenter terms and conditions and who have an active account, are eligible to join the adCenter Desktop beta test. “Go to the online form. If you are qualified, you will probably get access fairly quickly,” said Menezes.
Jonathan Hochman has two computer science degrees from Yale. He is a principal of Hochman Consultants, an internet marketing firm.
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