MSN AdCenter Content Network Reports

Portent Staff May 21 2009

This week as part of the MSN AdCenter Spring Upgrade a new feature was released that’s been a long time coming: Content Network reports! Ever wonder what those mystery “Microsoft property sites” are? I sure have. I asked an AdCenter rep once and got a “we don’t know either” answer which I found pretty unsatisfactory. But now we can see where on the content network of Microsoft sites our ads are showing and even going that extra step to block a few. So what do we do next? Rip it apart of course!

Accessing the reports is easy enough through two venues. 1.) The reports tab and 2.) The campaign and ad group settings pages. This means that you can apply excluded sites at both the ad group and campaign levels. Hooray!
If you access the report from the campaign or ad group “Additional Settings” area, the default date range is the last 30 days. You can’t change this, once you click the “view report” link it’s off and running. However it does open up in a new tab, which is nice and while you’re waiting for the report to show in that tab, there are additional links on the page for creating additional reports but that page disappears when the report is ready.

Let’s take a look at what a sample report shows:
Microsoft adCenter placement report
This report shows both search and content sites in one report. The interesting part of the search domains is that you can now see from which Microsoft properties people are using Live Search from. There’s “” which is the page, but the other sites like “” and “” meaning that someone was using their games site and then performed a search that brought them to a Live search results page.

Then of course, there’s those sites that are a part of the MSN network like “” and then sites that are from the publisher network “” that have been deemed relevant by MSN.

Once you know what sites you want to block (astrology tops that list) then return to the tab of the campaign or ad group that you want to block the sites from. Click on the “edit” link under website exclusions and begin adding URLs. Click “Add to website list” then click “apply” to save. An interesting option in this feature is that you can also edit your negative keyword list from within this same window.

Microsoft adCenter_add_excluded_sites.png

What I would like to see is the functionality to apply the same negative sites or keyword lists to additional campaigns or ad groups without the cutting and pasting.

Now accessing through another venue:

From the reports tab, you can see previous reports that you’ve run using that “run report” button from the campaign or ad group settings page. If you don’t want to see all the campaigns mashed into one you can select the campaigns on the report page. Problem was when I tried to see just one of the campaigns and the placement performance results for that campaign for the same date range, the report came back with a “no data available for the criteria you selected.” But I know there is data, based on the report that I was successfully able to run from the campaign settings page. (Per the example above.) So what’s the deal with trying to make the same report but from the actual reports section?

Clearly some bugs to work out, but knowing now that a product intended for Kindergarteners is showing on the Astrology page and being able to block that site is one small step for PPC, one giant leap for AdCenter.