For many businesses, online advertising is as normal as newspaper and television ads. In fact, for online businesses like Flags Bay, it is the most cost effective way to reach a national or international market of prospects. At Flags Bay, I use Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to run online ads.
Yesterday, I spent a long time on the telephone with billing support at Microsoft AdCenter. As the conversation progressed, it was plain that something was out of kilter, but it took a while to put the pieces together. I received billing for a marketing campaign that was paused a couple of months ago.
When Pause Doesn’t Mean Pause
Here’s the warning—Pause Campaign, doesn’t mean pause until you get back to it and make a decision and redesign your ad. With certain settings, pause campaign means pause until the midnight reset, which restarts the campaign. And since billing runs several months behind, you won’t notice it until the charges show up on the bank statement.
“Kevin,” with whom I spoke at billing support, seemed truly unaware of this until a little research revealed the fact that certain types of campaign settings kick this in. The setting “spread budget over month” was the one that got me. Pause, just pauses the daily budget run, but the ad starts again at midnight on the next day’s budget.
There may be other ad settings that result in this same gotcha-glitch, but once I discovered the problem with my ads, I stopped looking. For me the easiest solution was to delete the entire ad campaign.
Since I personally set up the ad campaign, I am responsible for the charges incurred, even though I thought the campaigns were “PAUSED,” which is to say “STOPPED.” I can live with consequences, but I am disappointed that Microsoft would employ such a deceptive practice.
With Google’s AdSense, pause means pause. It stops the marketing campaign until you start it again.
Kevin gave me three options to keep this from happening in the future.
- Set an end date for the campaign (hidden under advanced settings, I’m told)
- Change the budget settings (careful, you could make it worse)
- Delete the campaign (surefire, but statistics are gone)
If you think you’ve stopped your marketing campaigns by pausing them, you should log in and make sure it didn’t start up again after you logged out.
And no … there are no refunds or credits forthcoming. Just smile and learn the lesson.