On Tuesday I passed the Microsoft adExcellence exam so I guess I’m now qualified to talk a little bit about AdCenter and how similar/different it is from AdWords. In this post I’m going to tell you about the most useful resources for passing the adExcellence exam and then list some strengths and weaknesses of AdCenter and AdWords.
The Top 3 Learning Resources for the AdExcellence Exam
- The AdWords learning centre. That is not a typo. If you want the best PPC tutorial on the web then Google’s is the one to go to. If you’re already AdWords qualified then it isn’t worth revisiting it, but if you’re new to PPC then go and read it now!
- The AdExcellence classroom. Microsoft are in the process of expanding this to make It comparable with the AdWords learning centre. The classroom contains a series of flash videos, some of which contain useful information somewhere. If you’re in a big rush then just look at the following (text) pages:
+ Editorial Guidelines (what you can and can’t advertise on)
+ How to Import a Campaign (not that useful for the exam, but probably something you’ll want to do)
+ Budgeting (slightly different from AdWords so this is worth looking at)
- An AdCenter account. You need to have one running to take the exam. For me the quickest way to learn how to use a new tool is to play around with it (probably just as well that this is my job and that I’m not a mining engineer).
There doesn’t seem to be many resources available for the AdExcellence exam. However, PPC is PPC no matter what engine you’re on so I think any sort of beginners guide to PPC would be useful.
PPC may be PPC, but Microsoft is not Google so AdCenter is a little bit different from AdWords. Here are five ways that I think it is better:
5 Ways AdCenter is better than AdWords
- AdCenter has day parting and demographic targeting built in. The Google default is to display your ads all the time to everyone; Microsoft push you towards setting up ad scheduling and demographic targeting right from the beginning.
- AdCenter has monthly budgets. One of our clients has been included in the AdWords monthly budget trial, but all our clients tell us what they’d like to spend per month.
- The AdCenter keyword tool is much faster. Do you get fed up watching those coloured balls sliding around? The AdCenter tool doesn’t need it.
- The AdCenter add-in for Excel. This tool is useful for any PPC marketer who also uses Excel. I never realised how much of a timewaster it was exporting everything as a .csv then opening it in Excel. Fair play to Microsoft for doing it.
- As well as dynamic keyword insertion, AdCenter offers dynamic parameter insertion so that other bits of your ad text or destination URL can be altered dynamically.
Of course, in many ways AdWords is better than AdCenter. My top five reasons why are:
5 Ways AdWords is better than AdCenter
- The AdCenter keyword tool might be faster, but in general I think that AdWords pages load faster.
- Page load time doesn’t matter if you’re using AdWords editor. As far as I can tell there is no Microsoft equivalent. I think this functionality will be added to the Excel plugin soon.
- AdWords allows you to quickly look at data from any time period. In AdCenter you are restricted to preset defaults.
- Reliability. I wanted to take the AdExcellence exam on Thursday last week but the site was closed until Monday. This doesn’t fill me with confidence in Microsoft’s reliability. Also, the exam was 100 questions long. I got 91.5% (had to fit that in somewhere). How is that possible?!
- This point is the only one that matters.In the UK, Google has an 80% market share.
Needless to say, both platforms are miles ahead of Yahoo’s pathetic offering. I’d say that Microsoft have definitely studied AdWords closely before launching their own system. I hope that the market share of Live search improves at the expense of Yahoo so that I can spend less time logged into the Yahoo interface.