We're writing to notify you that your Microsoft adCenter Terms and Conditions are updated. The changes take effect on April 30, 2007.
Some of the key adjustments to your Terms and Conditions include:
Microsoft may use matching criteria other than keyword searches to display your advertisements. Microsoft may display your advertisements on its network of advertising channels operated by the Microsoft network of participating websites and other distribution outlets. The payment and reporting terms in your adCenter agreement have been clarified to describe your rights.
adCenter advertisers are relatively disgruntled about this "matching criteria" given the fact that it is important for them to understand the criteria being used in Microsoft's refinements. Their hard work into the PPC campaigns are being challenged by this new policy. Some are planning on terminating their agreement with MSN.
The reason that ppc is popular is because it's extremely targeted advertising - I decide which search terms / ads are working and continue to refine them. I do not want Microsoft to 'use matching criteria other than keyword searches' WITHOUT my opt-in.
No word from the adCenter rep on these new changes.
Barry offers some possible suggestions as to why Microsoft changed their Terms of Services. He told me:
This is not the first time Microsoft automatically added their advertisers to the content network program without their consent. When Microsoft launched their content network they did so by switching their advertisers into the program and then requiring them to opt out after the fact. In this case, I believe it may be similar, in that Microsoft wants to cover themselves by saying they "may" display their ads in other areas and via non-keyword searches (hence the content network and possibly via behavioral targeting methods).
That seems to fit with the sentiment at WebmasterWorld:
what it means is that they couldn't sell their content distribution, so it is now bundled into their search product. Plummeting ROI will ensue.
First they auto-opt you in to content, and you have to go in and opt out - if you are aware. Then the choice is taken away.