Key Points from Interview with Rathna Sharad
The first person I met with during my week at Microsoft in January was Rathna Sharad. This was a great start because she set the tone for all of the interviews I did. In the discussion below you will see key insights into the thinking behind the overall adCenter strategy. Here are some of the other key points from the interview:
- “The Web UI is good for a couple thousand keywords, maybe even up to ten thousand keywords in an account.”
- “If you have tens of thousands of keywords, the adCenter Desktop Tool works very well.”
- “Anyone that has hundreds of thousands of keywords, or more, is a great candidate for the API.”
- adCenter strices to make all the same features available in the Web UI, the desktop tool, and via tha API.
- adCenter keeps old version of the API alive for 6 to 9 months to allow people using it time to update their tools, but they do need to make the switchover.
- Rathna indicates that there are no known latency issues with the API, but they recently did a desktop tool release to make that more efficient with very large campaigns.
- Filtering functionality was added to the Web UI in late 2011. You can filter on any of the columns in the reports.
- The adCenter team is working on features to make recommendations to advertisers based on their goals.
- “Our marketplace is different; our consumers are different, the way they interact within the ecosystem is different.”
- “What it (Microsoft Advertising Intelligence or MAI) does at a high level is really provide insights into the monetization aspect, which is adCenter, as well as the forecasting aspect which is based on historical performance. For example, here is what we think you should be bidding for mainline, sidebar, first page placement, those types of recommendations.”
- One of the key capabilities in MAI is the keyword estimation capability, which shows traffic you can expect.
- adCenter provides information on share of voice (aka impression share), including why it is your share is currently being limited.
- The two major points of focus for adCenter are Return on Time Spent and industry standardization (parity with Adwords) to make it easier for advertisers to spend incremental ad budgets with adCenter.
Full Interview Transcript
Eric Enge: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rathna Sharad: My role currently is director of product management for demand. Essentially that I oversee the web UI, API, adCenter Desktop and the Microsoft Advertising Intelligence tool. I’ve been with Microsoft for almost six years now, and I’ve been working on search for that duration. The first two and a half years I was on the engineering side, so actually I’ve been through a lot of the products.
The latter half of the six years I’ve been on the product management team. Ultimately, I play a role in redefining our product strategy and the roadmap for advertisers. Prior to Microsoft I worked on transportation and supply chain solutions for UPS and freight forwarding companies.
The way I have my team organized is around the different areas that advertisers interact with. One of the product managers on my team is responsible for campaign management and the Web UI. We also have product managers that look after the adCenter Desktop tool as well as the Microsoft advertising intelligence tool which is basically around forecasting and prediction in terms of traffic and volumes, and also been in traffic estimation for specific keywords.
I also have people that take care of billing, and customer management, and agency management, capabilities within the platform. And, finally we have reporting, so essentially all of the recommendation engine as well as the reports generation if you will through the tools.
Eric Enge: Can you tell me a little bit about why people would choose the Web UI or the adCenter Desktop tool or the API?
Rathna Sharad: One factor is the size of their campaigns. The Web UI is good for a couple thousand keywords, maybe even up to ten thousand keywords in an account. Anything more than that, it gets a little tricky to navigate through it and find what you are looking for in a short amount of time.