If asked to describe AdWords as an animal, most would probably call them the 800-pound gorilla. However, yesterday I had the distinct thought that maybe Google is more like the hare from Aesop’s fable and surprisingly, Microsoft may very well be the tortoise.
“Slow and steady wins the race”
Before burning me at the stake for PPC heresy, hear me out. On Monday adCenter released updated tracking code that will fix a long-standing problem; the double-count. Despite the best efforts of PPC marketers and webmasters to place conversion tracking code on pages that can only be seen once, many users are unpredictable and illogical enough to somehow load thank you pages more than once, resulting in duplicate conversions (thus throwing off all your metrics). The new code from adCenter gives you a couple of different options for counting your conversions to give you numbers that aren’t too hot, aren’t too cold, but are just right.
Next I came across a story on TechCrunch about Microsoft PubCenter’s beta results. The beta testers they spoke with were reporting better revenue than AdSense (likely due to Microsoft’s generosity on revenue splits) and that PubCenter gave them more liberty on creative. Add in the fact that the ads were as well targeted as AdSense and you have a legit competitor to AdSense.
Can Microsoft Win?
Microsoft has the money and they are willing to spend it. While slower than AdWords, adCenter has released an off-line ad management tool, improved their tracking code and developed a legit competitor to AdSense. Slow and steady definitely describes Microsoft’s efforts (8% search share?) but can they really win the race?