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The Reason for Drops In ADcenter Impressions

Major Fire in Adcenter Data Center

6:32 pm on Dec 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It took me 4 days but I finally was able to get information out of one of the support reps as to the reason for the massive drop in page impressions.

First a little background. Some time Thursday evening, I noticed a massive decline in ad impressions from AdCenter.

The one thing I noticed immediately is that the vast bulk of this drop was from the areas of the US from the mid atlantic into the Northeast.

When speaking to the rep I emphasized this point adamantly.

At that point I was told this was a known issue but was given very little other information. I was given no idea how long it would take to fix etc.

That was Friday morning. Fast Forward to Sunday December 3.

Ad impressions still off by anyhwere from 50-70% so another call to Microsoft. Let's just say the Saturday call provided no additional info either.

Today, I demanded more information and told them I expected to be informed or given a reasonable estimate as to when my ads would come back online.

After much prodding and some fairly heated exchanges, the support rep, whom I will not name, told me there was a big fire in one of the major data centers in the east coast that feeds adcenter ads, all servers were burned and data destroyed. This does not mean your ads and data were lost. It means the distribution part of the service is disrupted.

This jives with exactly what I noticed when the ad impressions dropped.

I demanded to be given some reasonable estimate as to when they expected ad distribution fully back to normal, I wasn't asking for an exact time, but wanted to know if we were talking hours, days, weeks, months or what. This is the holiday season and I spend quite a large amount of money with MS adCenter.

The rep said they don't have that information and when pressed insisted that they have no way of getting the information. That they have no contact with anyone who could provide that info. I did not accept that answer and insisted he talk to his supervisor. Well, after a 3 or 4 minute hold he came back with a more updated answer. The rep was told by his supervisor that they expected a delay of 24-48 hours before they expected things getting back to normal. The rep was a bit more honest and said he doubted the ad distribution would be back to normal for at least 72 hours to a week.

Some comments for any Microsoft reps that read this board.

The good:
I have been with AdCenter since the beginning.
I have been able to get very good ROI from Adcenter.
Your support to date has been much better than what I have experienced with your competitors.

The bad:
AdCenter seems to sliding downhill rapidly in the much in the same way your organic search product has declined.

Your support reps answer the phone, and are pleasant and try and be helpful, but if you want this product to work, you absolutely HAVE to provide the advertiser with information.

The level of secrecy that surrounds search products today, both paid and organic is absolutely disgraceful. This not only applies to you, but to almost all search based products. I am the advertiser. If there is a problem a little honesty would be helpful. Your support staff should be told if there are issues, and that information should be made available to the advertisers. Your reps should not have to be hounded day after day nor should I, the advertiser have to wait 4 days after an issue is brought to your attention, to receive even a basic explanation as to the problem. If you want to make this product work, communication is a very key element.

Here is my history with Adcenter from November 19th through early December 3.

To any Adcenter support people reading this:

On November 19, both my accounts were taken offline when you attempted to bill a credit card that was inactive. Both accounts had on file 2 valid credit cards, and both accounts were set to use one of these 2 active credit cards. For some reason your system chose to bill an inactive credit. and both of my accounts, one of which has 2 million keywords, was taken offline and put on credit hold.

Adcenter has no method of removing old outdated credit cards from their system, why? Who knows.

From November 20th through November 25th I called 2x per day and spoke to reps and was consistently given the same message which was that there was a backend billing systems issue that was being looked into. They knew nothing else.

It took MSN Adcenter until November 25th to figure out how to process a credit card transaction. And to just to let everyone know, this was in NO way a credit issue on my end. My ads were offline for 6 1/2 days.

Based on my normal traffic, you cost me appx $18,500 in lost revenue. For the trouble you issued me $300 in advertising credit.

From November 26 until late November 30th, my ads were served normally. Late afternoon November 30th, is when this fire apparently occurred dropping ad distribution by 50-70%

You are now causing me a drop in revenue again of 50-70%, I'm sure you will offer me a nice credit of $25 or so per day.

I will say this, You are testing the patience of one of your advertisers. Do you care? Only you know the answer to that question.

This secrecy and lack of providing information must stop. I am not asking for your search algorithm, I am not asking to be told how you score ad quality or anything else. I am simply asking that your employees be given facts and that those facts be passed on to advertisers when issues arise.

I have a business to run as well. If you can't provide me the service I need, Just say so. I'll go elsewhere and come back when you have things fixed. Just be honest, try it, you may be surprised at the positive reaction you may receive.

Right now there is little or no communication at Adcenter between those who know what is actually happening and those who have to deal with the advertising customer. It needs to change and change fast.

[edited by: Shadoze at 6:35 pm (utc) on Dec. 3, 2006]

6:53 pm on Dec 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Quality..rant of the week, fair play to you!
6:59 pm on Dec 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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good investigation job!

DC failure was my first thought too.

9:19 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm sorry to hear of your frustrating situations that have occurred in the last few months. Part of what I do at Microsoft is connect with advertisers such as yourself, understand your pain points and work to resolve issues and promote your ideas internally. If you are interested in speaking with my team, please let me know.

I did want to make one clarification regarding the decrease in impressions recently. adCenter did not experience a fire in any of their data centers. There was/is a delivery issue, now partly resolved, that adCenterEU and I are still looking into for some of you in the UK. I'm sorry for the confusion and misunderstanding, but please be assured that no servers or data was lost.

I want to reiterate my invitation to speak with the Microsoft Community Team about your experience.