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Microsoft AdCenter Warning!

microsoft-adcenter.jpgFor 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.
There are:

  1. Set an end date for the campaign (hidden under advanced settings, I’m told)
  2. Change the budget settings (careful, you could make it worse)
  3. 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.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft AdCenter Warning!

  1. Thank you for this piece of knowledge.

    I am so new to this advertising that I squeak! Anyways I was trying to change the Campaign Name and the Group Name in Microsoft AdCenter.

    As per their Instructions I – paused – the campaign. I have now spent probably close to an hour just trying to change the campaign and group name. How stupid is that?

    Clearly, Pause for my issue does not mean Pause either.

    To change my campaign name and group ad name do I have to delete and start again too.

    It appears we have dissimilar issues and similar problems with the resolution!

    When Pause does not really mean what you thought it would!

    Thank you for your post.


  2. Michael, I feel your pain. The sad news is Microsoft seems to be the most intuitive of the three major online ad sellers, yet as you’ve pointed out, it’s impossible to determine certain answers.

    I haven’t learned a lot more, but here is what I know. You can stop a current ad by changing the dollar amounts (all of them) to $0.00 when you pause the campaign. With a zero budget, it won’t start again, until the new month starts a new budget (that’s what I mean by all amounts). The only sure-fire way I’ve found is to delete the campaign, but then you lose all the information on that ad run. Not a good plan from Microsoft.

    The easiest way to make the changes you are referring to? Start a new campaign. Learn from the mistakes of the past and apply to a new campaign. Just pay attention to the status of the old campaigns at login to make sure they haven’t gone “Active” again.

  3. “PAUSE” certainly does not mean “PAUSE” with Microsoft AdCenter:

    I have been told officially from Microsoft AdCenter that ad pause can take up to 4 hours to come into effect ! (Why don’t they state this when you hit pause?)

    This meanS when you pause an ad it’s still running and you are being billed for up to 4 hours later.

    In fact I have found the time lag to be even longer.

    I have also deleted ads only to find the same delay in them switching them off and charges still running up.

    I am persuing these very problems myself with Microsoft AdCenter – ( as well as keyword overcharging – but that’s another issue !)

    My advice: Avoid Microsoft AdCenter

  4. Dave, I don’t understand why they don’t give clearer information about their PAUSE CAMPAIGN buttons. It does seem a little deceptive on their part. It seems we all find out these things the hard way. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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