If you need further evidence that Google’s success is at least in part due to the idiocy of their competitors, consider this: in Google, if you want to set up geo-targeting, you do so at a campaign level. So, if you have 100 ad groups in a campaign, you can set-up geo-targeting for all of them in a few minutes. You can also set up geo-targeting via Google’s publicly available Desktop Editor.

In MSN AdCenter, you have to set up geo-targeting on the group (Ad Group) level. So if you have 10 campaigns and 1000 groups, you have to manually set up geo-targeting 1000 times! And MSN does have a Desktop Editor, but it is in limited beta (and has been for about six months). I got access to the beta but I wasn’t able to download it, because my computer was using the Vista operating system.

I’ve been critical of Yahoo Search Marketing’s ineffective Panama system, but as I start to use AdCenter (er, try to use AdCenter), I am starting to think that YSM is not so bad, at least by comparison. Clearly this was a system set up in a vacuum in Redmond – had they spent even a few minutes talking to search marketers, this sort of over-the-top bad design would not be an issue.


  1. CalTrainWreck December 9th, 2008

    Amen to that. Ease of use is not Yahoo or MSN’s forte. This is similar to Yahoo’s negative keyword system – adgroup only or via an account manager. Let’s hope the desktop app they plan on releasing fixes that…or is at least installable.

  2. David Rodnitzky December 9th, 2008

    It’s truly amazing. If I was CEO of YSM or AdCenter, my first act would be to license AdWords’ UI.

  3. tdwhalen December 10th, 2008

    David,Great post – fun to read. The folks at Yahoo and MSN are just amazing morons. Their advertiser interfaces are laughably bad. They absolutely should license Goog’s interface, except that Goog wouldn’t let them or would charge such (an appropriately steep) price that Y and MSN wouldn’t do it.If the opportunity does potentially exist, then Y! should be sued by shareholders for not having already done this.

  4. Mel Carson December 10th, 2008

    Hi DavidI’m one of the adCenter Community Managers that run http://www.adcentercommunity.comSorry to hear you’ve had trouble getting access to the Desktop Tool. Can you contact me through the blog with your details and I’ll try and see if I can help in any way: http://adcentercommunity.com/members/Mel-Carson-_2D00_-MSFT.aspxThanks Mel

  5. Jeremy Mayes December 10th, 2008

    I don't even compare YSM and adCenter to AdWords anymore – they are related like a car is to a dog…not at all.AdWords is so incredibly far ahead of both platforms I've honestly stopped working with Y/M unless I absolutely have to. It's just not worth it in most cases. Don't get me wrong – I want them to succeed. I want competition and options…but right now the cost is just too great. If it takes me 10 minutes to do something in AdWords odds are it takes 1 hour + to do the same in either of the other platforms and after all that the traffic (or quality of the traffic) just isn't there. I know tools and platforms exist that minimize this but that's a side issue.Y&M need to reach out to people in this industry for help – people who live paid search every day. Not figure head puppets that haven't actually logged into an account in a year – reach out to the folks who literally live in the paid search interfaces. Pay them, bribe them, shower them with praise…do whatever you need to do to get their feedback and then act on it….quickly. The time to act is NOW. Google is handing it to you guys with each passing day.

  6. David Rodnitzky December 10th, 2008

    Agreed Jeremy. If only Steve Ballmer would give me a call – I would give him the straight dope, probably make them an extra $500 million a year just by creating tools by and for SEMers.

  7. Graceland April 13th, 2011

    Got it! Tnhkas a lot again for helping me out!

  8. David Rodnitzky December 10th, 2008

    Mel, thanks for the comment. I will send you a private note via the AdCenter Community later this morning.

  9. thefiske December 11th, 2008

    I agree that it may not be beneficial for UI users, but it definitely has utility for those with API access. Imagine a mortgage campaign with varying ROI by state. Rather than 50 campaigns, one can break out targeting by adgroup and save a lot of headache.

  10. David Rodnitzky December 11th, 2008

    Great point TheFiske, but should you really be developing a paid search application that only works for developers with API access?Also, Google has developed both a UI that works for the common non-technical person and an API that works well for the development community (quota costs aside . . .)

  11. CustardMite December 18th, 2008

    Totally agree – there are so many issues with Yahoo and MSN, it’s almost impractical to cover them in a single article.My biggest complaint revolves around writing adverts – if you can’t see the adverts you’ve written, or even which Adgroups have new adverts pending, it’s easy to lose track. And trying to explain to a client why their new Google advert went live in 20 minutes, and the others should appear some time next week, can be difficult!Yahoo and MSN are a difficult sell for us as an Agency – they require three times the work, for a tenth of the traffic. As a rule, like Jeremy, we try to avoid it as much as possible.And don’t get me started on the reporting options for Yahoo…Steve Baker

  12. Cul-PPCAdBuying December 18th, 2008

    Agreed Steve/CustardMite (what is a custard mite anyway? Love that user name).My biggest pet peave on MSN is that it seems like I can never get enough traffic, despite how much I bid.I finally got access to the MSN Desktop (thanks Mel) and it is pretty awesome. If MSN could take the functionality of the Editor and either a) give it to all advertisers or b) integrate into the UI, they would see a huge boost in traffic.

  13. JakeNY December 19th, 2008

    Just a quick note. I run vista and have been using the Adcenter beta successfully for many months. Are you sure that’s the issue?Regardless, I seem to be bidding significantly higher on MSN for very little traffic, hardly seems worth it.

  14. David Rodnitzky December 19th, 2008

    I agree Jake. What I don’t understand (and if Mel from MSN is still reading, please chime in), is why you can bid a very high amount on MSN and still not get any clicks. Something is wrong with their algo – I think the clicks are there, I just can’t get them!

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.