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Similar to Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter ( com/) is a competing advertising network. The obvious difference between the AdWords and adCenter networks is that AdWords uses Google whereas adCenter uses Microsoft's Bing search engine and related services. Otherwise, you will find striking similarities between the two, including the initial $5 activation fee to start displaying ads.

Just as with AdWords, you can specify a region in which to advertise, choosing from the entire world, a specific state, or anywhere in between. You also have full control over your monthly budget and maximum price you wish to pay per ad click.

Registration is not required to start walking through the campaign setup process. You will only need to create an account once you have created and customized your first ad. Speaking of which, this process is also similar to AdWords, including the 70 character limit for the Ad text. The fields that need to be filled for creating an ad using adCenter are shown in the following screenshot:

As with AdWords, you can also specify a number of keywords to associate with your ad. Microsoft adCenter also includes a host of tools to analyze and track the performance of your ad campaign.

Both AdWords and adCenter are popular tools for managing your Internet ads. By no means are they mutually exclusive, either. There's nothing stopping you from running ads on both networks. In fact, that's a good idea because it gives your store exposure on two of the most popular search engines. If you have not yet signed up for either network, keep your eyes peeled for coupons (see how effective they are?) granting you an initial monetary bonus. For instance, many web hosts now include complementary $50 to $100 advertising network vouchers just for purchasing web hosting. If you find a coupon, there's absolutely no reason not to take advantage of it.

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