Microsoft, Yahoo Start Sorting Through Paid-Search Ad Problems

Elk Creek/Sexy Lingerie

Acknowledging concerns from advertisers, Microsoft and Yahoo began answering questions Thursday about their paid-search ads and sales transition plan. Although the two have begun moving customers to Microsoft's ad platform adCenter, it could take longer than expected to work out the details.

Some of the issues discussed on a blog include style issues, such as singular and plural words that YSM sees as one word, but Bing does not. Or, will liquor advertising keywords -- which are used on Yahoo -- work on MSN, which does not allow liquor keywords like scotch, and liquor baskets. And will the new platform allow search marketers to run Flash-driven and video capture pages? Another search marketer wanted to know if he will have an option in Microsoft adCenter to choose the engine to run campaigns -- either Yahoo, Bing or both.

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The minute details could hold up any project this size. Brad Butler, chief operating officer at Asadart Ecommerce Specialty Shops, typically relied on Google to run campaigns, simply because AdWords has been easier to understand and use.

Butler owns several Web sites that specialize in items ranging from goods for Halloween to lingerie to wine. He had issues related to specific ads running on Google, where the landing page required adjustments because of the content. "You can show a young lady modeling a bra and panties, but if she had a certain look or suggestive pose, Google would not allow you to run the ads," he says. "Victoria's Secret models do it all the time, but their bra strap isn't falling off their shoulder."

Advertising in the Google Content Network, where they have little immediate control, required companies like Butler's to use text rather than image ads. Google approved the campaign Butler ran to promote the Beach Boys playing at his winery, Elk Creek Vineyards, in Kentucky. The catch -- Google approved it as a non-family friendly ad.

In February, the two companies announced an alliance that would provide advertisers with the potential to reach more consumers through one account. They would transition Yahoo's paid-search advertisers from Panama to Microsoft adCenter. Yahoo would sell the search ads, but not display for both companies. The goal had been to transition U.S. and Canadian customers to adCenter before the start of the holiday 2010 search, but in a blog post to advertisers on May 6, Carolyn Million explains it could take longer -- into the early part of 2011.

Butler says he rarely uses Bing and Yahoo search platforms because he can't manage it from one system. It's too difficult. Perhaps that will change.

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