High Payouts From Microsoft PubCenter May Be Too Good To Be True

Last week, Microsoft officially opened up PubCenter to the masses, allowing anyone to sign up for the ad program. We’ve written about how Microsoft’s PubCenter, a self-serve third-party ad publishers platform through AdCenter, was doing well with private beta testers over the past year, with PubCenter paying significantly more than competitors Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher (one particular site owner says he is receiving from four times more in revenue from Microsoft than Google AdSense). We are now hearing and reading on PubCenter forums that since the program opened up to the public last week, revenue has plummeted and many publishers are switching back to AdSense due to the sudden drop in payouts.

One publisher, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that Microsoft has cut his payout by 80 to 90 percent and that many of the publishers on PubCenter are leaving to go back to AdSense. According to our source, this new revshare went into place on either the 18th or the 19th of April. Here’s a direct quote from the publisher: “Realistically, Microsoft’s payout has been too high from the beginning, but this drop puts it well below the scope of being remotely competitive and instead files it under ‘worthless.'”

On the private forums, many publishers are outraged by the sudden drop in revenue. We’ve lifted some of the comments from several different publishers who are using PubCenter:

“My earnings have gone down by about 50 % over the last few days. I typically do about 8500 a month with PubCenter-I was doing around 7500 with AdSense prior, so I welcomed a new player. Unfortunately, unless this trend changes it will be back to AdSense for me. The most annoying part is knowing that nothing on my site or traffic has changed but instead that someone decided to adjust the revshare numbers.”

“I’m not seeing any drop with the other [ad] networks recently…it’s just the way it was last month…but here it’s a very steep drop in the last 3 days or so . . . . I am not sure if some updates have been rolled out. This is definitely something to be concerned about since the numbers we are seeing over the past days bring serious concerns.”

“April 20th is the lowest eCPM I have seen since starting this program, much lower than my other programs.”

“I haven’t seen eCPM this low since I started. The past 3 days have been extremely concerning. As far as my impressions go, I have been usually at the high end of my average. My average CTR has improved…not sure why eCPM has declined so sharply.”

Google is in the driver’s seat when it comes to serving ads on third-party publisher sites. The company has more advertisers chasing all those impressions, which tends to drive bidding way up. So even though Google only shares a small amount with publishers, they can outpay competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft. That means Microsoft may have to actually take a loss revenue sharing just to get in the game. Their total revenue per click may actually be lower than what Google pays out in a revenue share, meaning to win publishers Microsoft may have to share more than 100% of revenue. That gets expensive fast.