MSN AdCenter WTF Part 2: Random Editorial Audits

After the “welcome to the content center” email, I received another email from MSN AdCenter titiled “Your campaigns may undergo an editorial audit” which was sort of baffling.

From the email:

Your current campaigns may undergo an additional review to ensure that your ads and keywords meet Microsoft adCenter editorial guidelines as of January 15, 2007. If your campaigns do not pass the audit, you may receive valid editorial rejections for your ads or keywords. Help increase your campaign success by ensuring that your ads are shown to the Live Search users who may be most interested in your offer. Follow Microsoft adCenter editorial policies and verify that your:

• Keywords are relevant to your landing page and website copy
• Ad copy meets content guidelines
• Website destination URLs are relevant to your ads and selected target audience

Ok, isn’t Google and Yahoo doing this already (first algorithmically, then hand reviewed)? And why would you send out a warning? I really don’t get it.

There was some discussion about this on Webmaster World – it seems everyone is scratching their head.

Could this be related to the content ads roll out? Maybe they’re tightening up on quality because they don’t want to besmirch MSN Finance or Encarta with irrelevant ads. Although in my experience (the few times I’ve use Live) their ads are generally more relevant than their SERPS.

I would imagine the net effect of this audit is going to be even less search volume for advertisers via Live Search. So if your search volume goes down, maybe you’ll be more likely to acquiesce to being in content search to make up for that lost volume. However, since they’re a smaller player, I would imagine people will just shift their PPC dollars to Google or Yahoo search.

This doesn’t appear to be a smart strategic move. Am I missing something here?