Elizabeth Marsten // Nov 23 2010
Back in 2006 I took this little test for Yahoo to become a Search Ambassador. The test was pretty silly, a few of the questions actually required an answer that proclaimed Yahoo to be the greatest like “With the most searches globally, which search engine has more than X million searches?” Choose from Google, Yahoo, MSN or Ask. The answer of course, was Yahoo. I passed it, printed out my certificate and never looked back.
Well, that program has long since been discontinued, but because I have my fancy 2006 certification I was sent a code to try the AdExcellence exam as part of the merger.
OK, I like a challenge. Here’s what I learned on my AdCenter AdExcellence Exam Adventure!
There is a learning center that can be accessed for free. But it’s all videos. Every single lesson. Approximately 2hours and 35mins of this. Not counting load time or note time taking. You know what I can do faster than watch videos? Read. You know who’s probably pretty fast through this kind of thing? Advertisers that have been in the industry and used the interface for several years. Videos are great for the brand new folks, but what about those of us that are just trying to get through it? And this brings us to the reason behind the series.
First things, first- you have to to have a Windows Live ID to take the exam. And create a profile.
Benefits of passing the exam are a logo/badge to put…places. Companies with 3 more individuals that pass it become members of the adExcellence Membership Directory a very bare bones looking directory of 1,000 members. Only two total in Washington state and one works for Microsoft. (It looks like if you leave your company space blank it’ll sort you towards the top on the first page.)
The basics- it costs $50 every time you take it, if you need more than once. It’s 100 questions long over a 90 minute time period. A passing score is only good for a year and then you have to take it (and pay) again.
And what you really came for- how to pass this exam without having to watch every video, minute for minute:
(Warning! This is for paid search marketers that have been there and done that- as in they’ve been using adCenter, are AdWords certified and want to just get this out of the way. If you’re new to using adCenter, go watch the videos.)
#1 What is Microsoft AdCenter? (2:17)
This is a very basic- it’s what PPC is and how to make the most of your advertising dollars type video. Skip it.
#2 Editorial Guidelines (12:24)
The transition here is steep if you were new to PPC. Here’s 2mins of what PPC is and now here’s 12 minutes to scare the heck out of you. This video goes over a myriad of adCenter policies pertaining to:
Basically the same as AdWords here. Follow their character limits, capitalization, good spelling and grammar and you’re good to go. Also don’t call anyone’s mama a bad name.
The biggest takeaway from the 12minutes for experienced users: phone numbers in ads. They can only appear in if it’s part of the advertiser’s name and does not include a call to action. So 1-800 Flowers is OK to use in ads, but “call 1-888-123-4567 for more” is not allowed.
Mobile ads can have phone numbers in the ads, but no special characters.
What Can You/Can’t You Sell:
Hotels and Casinos can advertise but not for online gambling- promotions or links to online gambling must not present, no matter how many clicks away “it must be impossible for your site visitor to navigate from your website to any prohibited gambling or wagering content.”
In the UK- there’s a gambling addendum: as long as the establishment is registered with the UK Gambling Commission and does not accept bets from US residents, they can advertise. In fact, the UK National Lottery advertises on MSN.
Contests are OK to advertise as long as there’s no gambling, includes terms & conditions, complies with local state and federal regulations.
Pharmacy (including pet pharmacies)
Adult Advertising Program
Requires an application with adCenter to participate, but once you’re accepted…
#3 Landing Page Relevance and Quality Guidelines (5:21)
Pretty basic stuff:
#4 Intellectual Property Guidelines (5:38)
These are country specific, so again, up to you figure out what country you’re in and what not to do.
So if you have an affiliate direct linking to your site and their ad is kicking yours in the arse, you are out of luck with MSN. Solve it through the affiliate program.
#5 Click Quality (3:15)
The video change format here to a new one that doesn’t have the sidebar navigation to tell you which slide you’re on.
Whew! That’s it for Part 1: Introduction to Microsoft Ad Center
Elizabeth supervises the overall search division at Portent, which includes PPC, SEO and Social Media. Check out her modest brag link bundle if you really want to know more: http://bitly.com/bundles/ebkendo/5 She has also written ebooks, is a regular on the Portent blog and speaks on PPC across the USA at various conferences. Read More