MSN AdCenter WTF Part 1: Forced Content Ads

I received two emails from MSN AdCenter this week that made me go “hmmmmmm.” I’ll cover the first one here, entitled “You’ll be upgrading to Content Ads on January 25, 2007” or as I’d like to call it “Congratulations, you will now pay for something you never signed up for.”

Apparently MSN AdCenter has decided to automatically force enroll advertisers into its content ads network. What is the MSN content ads network, you ask? It’s a bunch of verticals MSN owns such as MSN Money, MSN Health, Encarta, “and many others within the MSN and portals” where they will post your ads on a pay per click basis. This is separate from advertising via MSN’s Live Search, which is what you signed up for when you first signed up for Adcenter.

Essentially MSN is strong-arming customers into advertising on their other properties.

There is no opt in, just a complicated way to opt out. If you click on their WTF is the content network FAQ section about this and snoop around, it tells you how to un-enroll:

If you would like to separate your orders to be “content only” and “search only” you will need to duplicate your order and select only “content” as the distribution method on the settings tab.

That sounds like a pain in the ass and purposely complicated, especially if you have many orders.

The other part that strikes me about this is how they present this “new program” as something exclusive in that whole “you’re special – you’ve been chosen” kind of way. Reminds me of a scene from The Island.

MSN has been losing market share and their search volume is laughable. I can appreciate them trying to offer more, but this is not the way to do it.

MSN Adcenter ads