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Introduction to MSN AdCenter
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By Greg DiFalco

MSN AdCenter is Microsoft’s Paid Search application for the MSN search engine. MSN is a distant third in the search engine market, behind giants Google and Yahoo. As such, some site owners will decide it isn’t worth pursuing paid clicks on MSN because the volume is so low compared to Google and Yahoo.

This is a mistake. MSN can surprisingly provide a very good return on investment (ROI) and an even better return on ad spend (ROAS) - 2 key factors when evaluating the results of a paid advertising campaign. Like the other Pay-Per-Click advertising engines, Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing, setting up your account logically, activating conversion tracking, and, of course, trial and error can help you determine rather quickly whether or not AdCenter is good for your website.

Opening an AdCenter Account

You’ll want to start at the Sign Up screen. You’ll be required to choose where your ads will be shown and in what language. Like Google and Yahoo, you can specify individual areas of the United States, which can be very handy if you’re trying to market to a local area. Next, you’ll be asked to create an ad, then choose keywords. For this reason, it would be a good idea to start the process by pre-determining your campaign structure (more on this later). After creating a basic ad, you’ll be asked to set your monthly budget and a maximum cost per click. Choose the amount you’re comfortable with, enter it, and you’ll be asked a final set of questions to complete the account signup process. Here, you can set up payment processing. Automatic credit card debits are preferred, so that you don’t either go offline should funds run out, or have to manually enter payment every time you need to replenish the account. Setting a budget prevents your card from being charged more than you expected to pay every month.

There is a $5 fee to open the account. While it seems unnecessary to charge consumers $5, this is a minor inconvenience by Microsoft. AdCenter is relatively easy to use from here on out. Seasoned Pay-Per-Click advertising professionals might disagree, though, because of AdWords’ advanced features. Once again, this is why you should allocate a very small percentage of your budget to AdCenter initially.

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Greg DiFalco is an Independent Internet Marketing Strategist.
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