Google AdWords vs MSN adCenter – Comparison Chart

Now that the Search Alliance transition is complete, MSN is now the second largest search company, as Bing-powered searches account for nearly 28 percent of the market and Microsoft adCenter powers all paid search advertising on Bing and Yahoo.

In short, adCenter is growing. Because many people are new to the platform, I thought it would be helpful to do a comparison between AdWords and adCenter so that people just getting started on this platform would know a little better what to expect.

Rather than write a dissertation, I instead decided to make this at-a-glance chart:

AdWords vs. adCenter

*MSN has said you can have 50 campaigns if there is one ad group per campaign and 2,000 keywords in each ad group. They have said that the grouping limits are mostly set by how your account is structured, just be sure to keep in mind the overall account keyword limits.

AdWords vs. adCenter

*Each negative keyword at this level can contain up to 100 characters. The entire negative keywords list at this level, including commas, can contain up to 1,024 characters.

AdWords vs. adCenter

*MSN counts the body of your ad as one line that is comprised of 70 characters. Your line breaks are always at 35 characters.

AdWords vs. adCenter

*MSN uses a more advanced {Param} function. Check out Jeremy Hull’s awesome guide to adCenter {param} function.

AdWords vs. adCenter

As I built this chart out I realized that I would never be able to do either tool it’s fair justice, so I tried to keep things simple and based solely around what you could find in each tool directly. As there are many shifting parts and changes taking place on the regular, this data here is a snapshot in time.

Additionally, MSN has been vague in the past about some of the numbers present above. If you have personal experience that changes any of these numbers or figures, or if you have additional insight or questions just drop them in the comments below. Hope you find this helpful!

Most recent posts by Greg Habermann


  1. So basically, it appears that AdWords and adCenter are more similar than they are different. My biggest pain point with adCenter though is that their interface just isn’t as easy to navigate and use.

  2. @Robert – Basically. My original article was much more critical of adCenter for the reasons you’ve pointed out but it got edited back to hide my disdain 😉 They really have been making great strides towards having better product functionality but they are still seeming to just try their best to mimic what Google is doing so I rarely see any innovation that is apparent. And yes, the interface and user experience is miserable.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to post the article on, Greg. Do you actually find bing to be a reliable search engine at all? Most of the time I’m not satisfied with the results, unless of course I search for something really popular like “white house” for example. Nevertheless, 31.7% is not a bad market share. I’ll have to take a look at adCenter…

  4. Hi there – thanks for the kudos. I have a love/hate relationship with Bing. There are some things that I’ve found that I love but it’s inconsistencies are mostly what I hate. You might take a look at this article where people at the office took a week off of using Google and used Bing instead: Bing vs Google

  5. My company recently tested out adCenter in comparison to AdWords as well. We did a similar comparison chart that you can see here: Adwords vs. adCenter. We found that adCenter currently is much cheaper per click, and sent us more conversions for the same price as AdWords. We will definitely be doing some further analysis to see how we should spend our budget in the future.

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