06 May

If You Thought Yahoo SEM Was Bad, Try MSN adCenter for a Laugh

So Renamed Microsoft adCenter Officially Launches (drumroll). Well, let’s give it a ride then. “Microsoft adCenter does not currently support the web browser you are using. Please sign in using Internet Explorer 6+.”
Yeah right, Firefox on WinXP, talk about obscure. I kid you not, to be able to use their web application, a distant third in its market, you have to use a proprietary piece of software that hasn’t been updated in five years. IE-only development in 2006? Well that certainly helps explain the outstanding MSFT stock performance these days (thanks for sapping my savings, guys). I’m starting to think Mini Microsoft is actually right in the money. The people who thought it was ok to develop this adCenter site this way should be fired on the spot. As a Microsoft shareholder I just find it inexcusable to not only lock out potential customers in non-trivial numbers but also to use ancient proprietary web development practices.
At least it was the occasion for me to learn the word “nincompoops,” which preceded by the f word was how my Mac-using business partner chose to describe them. I think that fits perfectly.
Update: I sent this to Scoble, then I realized someone else had already bitched about it.
August update: they’re fixing this.

03 May

If You Thought Adwords Was Just OK, Try Yahoo for a Ride

I’m trying to extend our ad reach for TaxPrinter now that we’ve found some profitable keywords, so we’ve just opened a Yahoo Search Marketing account. Well, I’ll tell you what, you’ve got to be seriously motivated to spend money there. First, Yahoo is in denial that they’re the follower to the market leader. Take a hint from Microsoft back in the 90’s when it was still a growth company: acknowledge reality, embrace, and extend. Meaning, put a big box that says “Adsense advertiser? Import your campaigns right there in three clicks”. Microsoft had all sorts of Lotus Notes or Oracle or Novell import and interface tools, and that worked well to penetrate accounts. It’s not like I won’t hear about Adwords if Yahoo remains shy about it.
Second, Yahoo’s search marketing user interface is a pile of crap. You can’t sort columns by clicking on them, terminology is confusing (“editorial status”? I’m not writing a magazine here, I’m selling stuff), sessions expire and wipe off unfinished work if you dare doing something else for a while, help sucks, many tasks involve darn popups, and it’s hard or impossible to do the simplest things such as deleting keywords. I’m not in love with the Adwords interface, but it’s an order of magnitude less bad than YSM. I’ll stick to it to see how it performs because I want to make money even if it sometimes means unfun work, but this house needs to be put in order and the interface should be overhauled to ’00s web usability and convenience standards. Again, the mediocrity of oligopolies in times of growth is right there in your face.
I’ve just added DFH Superior and Steinberg V-Stack to my Roland TD8-based electronic drumkit, and there’s a bit of a learning curve to set the whole thing up with my new ESI ESP1010 sound card. The end result is low-latency (around 4ms) live triggering of 1+GB of drum samples with pretty good velocity and humanization support, something that was impractical and limited only three years ago (not to speak of mic bleeding which I don’t think even existed). 3GB of RAM and low-latency soundcards used to cost a lot more while drum sampling software was cruder (there’s a gap between Battery and DFH or BFD). My long-winded point is, I’m fine with having to learn software when it’s somewhat on the edge but I’m not happy to have to frown just to figure out an ad management web app.