AdCenter Syndicated Search Partners

How do you know when you’ve hit a nerve? When MSN adCenter writes an entire post meant to deconstruct your post about adCenter Syndicated Search Partners. That was…surprising. But- it did finally crack a discussion about syndicated search partners wide open.

First off – I don’t think Microsoft adCenter liked my writing style. I’m snarky. So’s my blogging style. There’s no doubt about that. I work at Portent.

I also do my homework. So here’s my rebuttal of their rebuttal. And yeah, it might be a little snarky, but it comes with the package, sorry:

It’s still the content network of 2006

The folks at adCenter really did not like my referring to the syndicated search partner network as ‘the content network of 2006’. It’s snarky, yes. But there are plenty of reasons I used that particular year and wording:

  1. It’s opted in by default. Remind anyone of anything? (By the way, Google’s now paying out a 3.5million dollar settlement because of that.)
  2. It’s still an ad that is shown on a page of a site that is not a SERP.
  3. You can’t tell who a partner is until your ad has shown there.
  4. You can’t opt out of specific sites. Remember back in 2006? When you couldn’t do that?
  5. There are sites that are traffic hogs. Lots of impressions but little going on that pop up in every account. Google had their own back then too- MySpace was by far the worst.
  6. Google has re-branded their content network as the “display network” for many reasons. One of which has to be the negative connotations that a “content” network tends to carry.
  7. Super fun unrelated sites in the network. Just like the Content Network that scared everyone off in 2006.

They’re your defaults, not mine

Microsoft adCenter also really didn’t appreciate my screen shot of their default settings:
OK, fine. But I didn’t actually say anything other than “here are the options.” It’s simply a picture of the default options. They’re the defaults that adCenter set. Nothing else. Did you want me to change the settings? Because then they aren’t the ‘default options’.

Like I said: I do my homework. I didn’t just write this one afternoon in an hour. I spent several days researching and editing.

Misquoted and misread

Then adCenter totally mis-reads a part of my post. The writer on their blog said:

Ms. Marsten writes:
“Please note something here- content AND search ads MAY be syndicated to the same partner sites. This means that some sites are considered both search and content.”

I didn’t say all of that. That’s why that section is in blockquote. A Microsoft employee said thatPaul K. on Nov. 3rd, 2010. There’s a link there to it in the original post too. What I said is that by this definition, “some sites are considered both search and content.” And that’s true, they’re just triggered differently.


Microsoft can say what they like, complain about my writing style, protest about my choice of screen captures and try to put their employees’ statements in my virtual mouth. But that’s not the real problem, is it? The real problem is that adCenter makes it hard to define what is what and that costs you money.

They hide the ball. The discussion thread I quoted started with a question from an adCenter user who asked: “Please explain: content network & syndicated partners?”

Why should advertisers have to comb through forums, blogs, help centers, support centers and sites for an explanation of a basic option that is enabled by default?

Argue that the content network is different all you want, that’s fine. But while you’re at it, can you explain to me how “classylaptops” “costarica” and “hometheaterpure” are appropriate search partners for my ads on RV mattresses and down pillows?

And how is that different from the Google Content Network of 2006?

Don’t blame the paint if the house is falling down

One of my co-workers summed it up best: “If it takes you 5 pages worth of text to explain why an industry professional doesn’t understand your ad system, there’s a bigger problem.”

I’ll own up the fact that the website exclusion feature is only for the content network. In fact, I’m editing my original post to include that. I got that bit wrong, so I’ll fix it. That still has nothing to do with the first screenshot, or the confusing system, or the lack of documentation, or the bizarre search partners selection, or the default configuration.

Maybe instead of raking me over the coals, Microsoft adCenter could write an addition to the Help or Support Center? Just a thought…


Oh, and Bing? Don’t take it personally. I am an equal opportunity “network” griper. Earlier in June this year I wrote a complaint letter to Google about the Google Search Partner network.

The good part

On the bright side, my post seems to have inspired Bing. The folks at adCenter finally put up documentation that clearly explains what the difference is from a syndicated search partner network is vs. their content network. With pictures.

I won’t apologize for jerking your chain, adCenter, if the result is a great explanation of previously unexplained features.

And I’ll keep doing it- as long as you keep taking our money.

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. Great read – I’ve been warning all of my co-employees of the Syndicated Search Partners as the CPA and quality of traffic is for the most part abysmal.
    The transparency Bing has provided on this topic – including the opt in and lack of resources – is appalling.

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay