Microsoft adCenter 101

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The major pillars in search-engine marketing or, to be more specific, pay-per-click advertising, are well established.

Customers are able to buy keywords, tailor their ads to their audiences and bid according to parameters that stretch from an ROI metric to the cost of driving traffic.

But what's next on the horizon? What should advertisers think about for the future?

In 2006, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft adCenter Labs, a partnership between the company's adCenter team and Microsoft Research. The adCenter Labs - which comprise researchers, analysts and developers who cultivate technologies in paid search, behavioral targeting, contextual advertising, social network analysis and image or video mining - were created to help advertisers learn more about their audiences before making decisions.

In the past year, the team has doubled and is working on more than 60 tools, many of which are being created specifically based on customer feedback. The main reason for this strategy is to be better informed before making online-advertising decisions.

This year we've seen PPC networks adopt the same model. No longer is bid price the only determinant of position. Now the effectiveness of your creative and the relevance of your landing page are taken into account. This means that advertisers need to know more about their audience to get the best performance. But beyond the norm of keyword research, what options are available?

For example: How would keyword selection be undertaken if there was a tool that determined the commercial intent of the search, the keyword, when they searched? What if the advertiser could see the trends of searching patterns on keywords from the past year and predict where the traffic trends were happening the next quarter?

These are just a couple of the tools that the adCenter Labs team has built to provide the search industry with tools to better equip itself in the complicated arena of search.

The adCenter Labs tools, all of which have real data and are available at http://adlab.microsoft.com, are not only a demonstration of how Microsoft is thinking about the future of search, adCenter and the online industry as a whole, but also a way to solicit feedback from the online-marketing community at large on which tools are either "market ready" or viable for adding to the adCenter of tomorrow.

Each day the adCenter Web site receives thousands of visitors. They take advantage of these features to better decide a path or course of action to improve their use of search and how their campaigns apply to the core pillars of PPC.

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