Tor Thompson


Bings Ads powers Savoo to ‘Search, Save and Raise’

Today, we are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with Savoo as the money-saving website relaunches its offering to become a free-to-use online fundraising platform. Search results on the new ‘Savoo Search, Save and Raise’ platform will be powered exclusively by Bing Ads through a search engine on the site’s homepage which, when used, will donate 1p per search to a charity of the consumer’s choice.


This innovative proposition of blending search and support of worthy causes by Savoo is expected to add over 60 million search queries within the year and extend Bing Ads’ breadth and audience reach. A partnership that integrates Bing Ads at the heart of the user experience; it represents the increasing growth of search-supported experiences through Bing that help better consumers’ digital journey.

Here at Bing Ads we have taken the power of search far beyond the blue links on a page, and in this instance we’ve empowered customers in a way that truly matters. By utilising search as a strategic intelligence asset to inform decisions, Savoo has been able to create a personal and valuable brand experience and add something extra to users’ online experience.

For those interested in reading more about the partnership and how Bing Ads will be powering charitable search results visit Savoo’s website here.

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Move Over ‘Worldwide Web’, It’s Time For ‘Where, What, When, Why, Who’

This article first appeared on State of Digital

If in a conversation with a friend, you answered their questions without reference to anything you knew about them, it might not go down so well. Search engines, in their traditional form, are just a bunch of questions and answers, so why should it be any different?

One of the things that keeps me working in search is being able to review search query data – seeing what is in the national consciousness. Query data not only represents the pulse of the nation’s whims, but is also a fascinating insight into the information that the user expects the internet to furnish them with. A big factor in rendering the right mix of results is the quality of the user input. Our job is to unravel the meaning of these queries. Does the guy who typed in ‘bath’ want to go to a charming spa town, or does he need to bathe urgently? Did the guy behind a query for ‘iron’ want to pump some, curl his hair, smarten up or simply eat better? Did you know that when looking for a product or physical thing, we naturally search in plurals, for example, you’d search for ‘DVD recorders’, or ‘used cars’, whilst in fact being in need of only one. In search, verbs are rarely conjugated, and curiously in commercial queries the past tense is only really used for services you want in the future – ‘carpet fitted’ or ‘oil changed’. In a user’s choice of grammar, we have signals to better understand meaning, but the more specific the query gets, the more chance we have of getting it right. Until recently, your anticipation should only extend to how well you articulate the scope of your expectation, in actual words.


When I started working in search back in the early 2000s, you could look at search query data and see a sea of domains as keywords, because people were confused between a search box and a browser. We would get entire domains as queries, complete with http:// and ‘www.’ – I would love to see what the browser logs had to show for themselves. As you would expect, searches for URLs are happening less and less, and this started me thinking – when was the last time you stopped and thought about what ‘www.’ actually means? Today, the idea of a ‘worldwide web’ is remarkably unremarkable in that the internet is available to anyone wherever they may be on the planet, and user interest (unless, expressly constrained) is assumed to be global in intent. The concept of being ‘worldwide’ is now less a wonder, and more of a human right (much like the unfettered availability of wi-fi in hotels).

So, what’s the new scope of modern search expectation? What’s the new ‘www.’? What better way to investigate than by reviewing the most open of questions posed by modern search users – the Ws – queries beginning with where, what, when, why and who. In pulling the data I have to say (with a small smirk) that much of it has to be censored, however, the results clearly show expectation for the search engine to have psychic abilities, or at least to understand specific, personalised details that would take more than a jiffy to enter into a search box (or indeed a browser). Below are some of the top queries with a W word:

  • What can I make with these ingredients?
  • What should I weigh for my age and height?
  • What should we call me?
  • Where can we go today?
  • Who should I ask for a reference for a job?
  • Where did I go wrong I lost a friend
  • When should I worry?
  • What should I watch?
  • What should I have for dinner?
  • Why am I so tired?
  • Why am I so cold?
  • Why does my face feel sore when it stings?
  • What does it mean when someone says you are a diamond?
  • Where is my meerkat toy?
  • When will I die?

What you should make for dinner really depends on what ingredients you happen to be clutching. Where you’re likely to want to go probably depends on what you like doing, whether you’re a doer, or more into impersonating pub furniture. I am not sure any technology will ever know where you misplaced something, without being terrifically omnipresent, nor will it have the wisdom to understand the complex series of events that happened between two people, resulting in the end of their friendship. Perhaps they listened badly.

However, these searchers – possibly except the one so concerned about their mortality – are starting to have faith in the future. They intimate in their questioning existing dimensions of the online world such as location, social and lifestyle factors that are now enabled by technology, services and devices. Not only that, but they are posing questions which, in order to be answered, require understanding of how these dimensions are inter-connected in infinite combinations.

Hang on a minute. What if the search engine knew, with your permission of course, whether you were in a work or a home context? What if, as in the case of my husband, it knew that you mostly listened to metal, that skateboarding was your golf, and that you only liked drinking in establishments where beer was on tap? What if it could detect your current, home and work locations, and connect those data points not only to what the search engine knows about venues or attractions nearby, but could prioritise those choices that specifically meet your preferences, and also plan you a route at the same time? What if the search engine didn’t need text strings to get your command – but instead could use gestures, voice or image recognition to ingest your expectations? Finally, what if that technology was not just available when you navigate to a website and punch in a question, but as a living, breathing intelligence fabric, connecting information across your personal online world.

This is a different sort of searching. Bing has been evolving since its inception in 2009 to build a digital universe composed of people, places and things, and has seen seismic shifts in how people search, the explosion of social and ubiquitous connectivity, blurring the lines between home and work and played out on multiple devices. It has through a deep understanding of these dimensions and entities and how they interact, built a new web of semantic relationships – a 360-degree universe of connections.

Microsoft is now in a position to present this new digital universe of people, places and things to respond to user expectation in a new way. Cortana – the new digital personal assistant on Windows Phone– was developed after interviewing 500 real-life personal assistants and asking them what makes them such a powerful resource. Cortana, now in beta in the US, is truly personal, remembers and carefully curates responses for you, using the power of natural language understanding and artificial intelligence to present your digital world. This world is powered by Bing’s immense knowledge, but is also tailored to your preferences, your network, and your location and context. Cortana is as integrated into your apps as you allow her to be, learning and evolving. She keeps a ‘notebook’ of what she has learned about you, which is available to edit, giving you control of personalisation. The internet doesn’t have a memory, but Cortana does.

In the future, you won’t need me pontificating about the most likely user intent of a query based on the keywords’ inherent meanings, and grammatical structure. In fact, my linguistic training will largely go to waste. Simply because there will be no ‘generalised’ user intent. Instead, there will be personalised intent, your own web, tailored to you, with your permission. The worldwide web will have a few more Ws, and will evolve into the ‘where, what, when, why, who’. Sitting here looking at query text strings will give me little clue as to what you, the user, really wants, or what you personally are seeing. Not because you don’t have clear intent, but because you will no longer have to type anything in but the most basic manual signals. ‘Bar!’ my husband will say to Cortana, and there’ll be beer on tap and metal playing, and there’ll be more than a slim chance of the pub being wall-to-wall with skaters. Where’s the fun in that for me.

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UK Sitelink & Ad Extension Combination Analysis

We’ve suspected for a while that the bigger the better when it comes to ads – and our most recent analysis of ad extensions on Bing Ads in the UK seems to point that way too. Extensions draw the eye to the ad, and give opportunities to share more specific information with users, and differentiate your business versus the competition.

It has been almost a year since we launched sitelink extensions in the UK and the response has been incredible, with sitelink extensions flying off the virtual ‘shelves’! Now one out of every three mainline ads in the UK is a sitelink extension. So, we thought we’d check in and see how they’re doing. This blog post covers sitelink extensions average click-through rate (CTR) uplift analysis, as well as the results of a study looking at the CTR of advertisers combining sitelink extensions with location extensions. Enjoy!

Advertisers adopting Sitelink Extensions in the UK are seeing an average 16% CTR increase

First a reminder of what Sitelink Extensions are. These extensions allow you to load up to ten additional deep links below your ad of which six show, doubling the size of the ad. This helps drives engagement, and allows marketers to pre-qualify intent by presenting users with quick links to different parts of their site depending on the user’s interest. Find out about how to load sitelink extension here.

We get asked a lot what sitelink extensions does to improve click-through rates. For your benefit, we first looked at the impact of taking a plain-old text ad and adding a sitelink. To do this we identified advertisers who had adopted sitelink extensions, and looked at what uplifts we can observe from their performance. Specifically, we compared their performance on a sample of traffic with sitelink extensions enabled vs. a sample of traffic with sitelink extensions capability disabled. We then broke it down by industry, to see where we observe it to be working best for advertisers.


On average, we see that advertisers in the UK who adopt sitelink extensions have a 16% increase in ad click-through rates, achieved by adding a richer set of links, and expanding the real estate dedicated to the ad. Sitelink extension seems to perform well across industries, with average CTR uplifts range between 16% and 25%. However, the industries showing the biggest uplifts were Finance with an uplift of 25%, Travel with 22%, and then Entertainment with 21%.

Sitelink Extensions ad CTR Uplift by vertical (source: Yahoo Bing Network)

Five Formidable Sitelink Application Best Practices

Given these strong uplifts, we had a look at some live ads to see how our advertisers have gone after the sitelink opportunity. Here are my observations on where it works and popular tactics for leveraging the format:

1. Refining intent and showcasing: sitelink extensions are great for showcasing distinct offerings or sections of your site. For example, many insurance brands split their sitelink extensions across their main insurance products such as home, travel or car insurance when users search on brand or generic queries. This acts as a qualifier, effectively tempting browsers to navigate to more specific, tailored landing pages.

2. Targeting using specific offers, discounts and claims: across many industries, sitelink extensions lends the space to attract users based on pricing or offers*, for example:

  • Credit cards: ‘0% balance transfer’, ‘you could save over £800’
  • Insurance: ‘travel insurance from £2 a day’, ‘multi-policy discounts’

3. Addressing personal circumstance: the most popular approach seems to be having one link dedicated to addressing users by their financial position or status, such as:

  • Finance: ’Bad credit credit cards’, ‘stop lenders demands’, ‘free interest rate charges’, ‘100% mortgages’, ‘first time buyers’
  • Travel: ‘luxury short breaks’, ‘low cost holidays’, ‘first time buyers’, ‘kids go free’

4. Get the researcher: these tactics pique the interest of those who like to investigate fully before taking action – such as:

  • Finance: check your credit rating’ and ‘compare balance transfer credit cards’
  • Travel: top ‘100 holiday destinations’, ‘Best reviewed hotels’

5. Get the doer: attract those who like to get things done with

  • ‘Apply today’, ‘call our specialists’, ‘Request a call-back’
  • ‘Book Las Vegas 4* hotels’, ‘Reserve your Paris city break’

NOTE: it is your responsibility to ensure that claims endorsement and offers are accurate, not misleading, and comply with editorial guidelines. For more information please check the editorial guidelines.

Testing the impact of using ad extensions and location extensions together

But what happens if you use more than one extension? Ad extensions are landing thick and fast in international markets, sitelink extensions and location extensions are available globally and call extensions were recently introduced in the UK. Now seemed a great time to look at the impact of the use of as extensions and call extensions together.

To determine the impact of the extensions combined, we looked at absolute CTR performance rather than average CTR uplifts. We identified advertisers using the following criteria, and observed the average CTRs of each group.

1. Those using no extensions

2. Those adopting sitelink extensions

3. Those who had adopted both sitelink extensions and location extensions in the same ad

What are location extensions again?

Location extensions allow you to add phone numbers and addresses to your ads. Location information will show for ads when the user is within a 50-mile radius from your business location, which means users can easily find their way to you. In addition, there’s a click to direction feature – which provides the user with a link, which when clicked, directs the user through to Bing or Yahoo Maps (depending on the search provider they use) and pre-populates the destination in the directions functionality of the map. If the user is on their smartphone, and have opted in for their location to be used, it will also pre-populate the location, giving a live directions view. This functionality means the user is engaged from seeing the ad right through to walking in the door.

The test results: overall CTR higher when ad extensions are combined

What we learned by observing these groups mentioned above is that average CTR is overall higher when advertisers leverage a combination of ad extensions. This makes sense as each extension adds a new dimension of relevant information for the user to engage with, and expands the ad size.

imageSimilar to the other analysis, we broke the performance data down by vertical. It’s worth noting that to take both extension types, you’d have to be a national business with a website and also have a local network of physical locations where you’d like to drive footfall. The business to consumer services (B2C), which includes real estate, utilities, storage and local services such as locksmiths, printers and dry cleaners and retail, came therefore out top with average CTRs of 24% (B2C) and 23% (Retail).


When using two extension types, advertisers have the option to use the different extensions to split intent between those looking for an online experience (navigating to the website) versus those with local intent, who may be interested in visiting a branch near them. As you can track by extension type, you can clearly distinguish and break out the performance by extension.

We look forward to bringing you further insights into ad extensions performance. In the meantime if you have ideas or suggestions of ways we can continue to improve Bing Ads?  Stop by the Bing Ads Feature Suggestion Forum and see if someone else had the same idea.  If they have, you can cast your vote for it, and if they haven’t, you can add it for others to vote on.

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Bing Ads to be integrated into Smart Search in France and Germany!

We are extremely pleased to announce that advertisers participating in the Yahoo Bing Network in France and Germany will now be eligible to have their ads served in the innovative Windows 8.1 Smart Search experience. Beginning February 27th, the most relevant ads will be automatically displayed in Smart Search web results as part of the new Windows 8.1 search format, giving Yahoo Bing Network advertisers access to a new traffic source within the Microsoft family of products and services.

What is Smart Search?

Microsoft believes that search is more than just a list of links. With Windows 8.1, Bing powers a completely new search experience called Bing Smart Search. Smart Search is a faster way for users to find what they need no matter where it lives. To experience Smart Search, there’s no need to open a browser – simply swipe or start typing from the Windows 8.1 start screen.

As queries are entered, Bing Smart Search will start retrieving information from connected storage locations – in the cloud, on your device, in your app portfolio or even in the app store along with information from the web – and will deliver the result in a beautifully presented, and highly curated experience. Bing Smart Search’s goal is to help users to find what they’re looking for and complete their tasks as quickly as possible. Importantly, information stored on a personal device or in personal files is never shared with Bing for any reason.

How are Bing Ads integrated?

This new search experience represents a fundamental change in how consumers search and the scope of information they can find in one action. At the same time, it also presents an innovative new ad layout for advertisers. A single ad is delivered in each set of web results, and therefore gets exclusive placement within the results. 

The ad layout is significantly larger than a regular text ad, and considerably richer, as it is accompanied by a preview of the website. This highly visual approach drives engagement with the ad, and wastes fewer clicks, as users have access to rich information on the site and its offering prior to the click. The ad provides ample space for ad extensions, with Sitelink Extensions already integrated.

Are there any requirements to participate?

For advertisers in the Yahoo Bing Network, there are no additional steps required for ads to be eligible for inclusion in this visually appealing experience across Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets. All ads participating in Bing Ads will be eligible, however, to protect the user experience, only the most relevant, high quality ads will display. Therefore to increase the chances of an ad capitalising on this valuable new experience, we recommend reviewing your keyword relevancy, quality score and ensuring your landing page performance is optimal.

You can check out the Editorial Guidelines for Ad Guidelines and Relevancy and Quality or find more content about creating engaging ads and landing pages on our Bing Ads Advertising site. To read more about Smart Search, please check out Bing Smart Search webpage, or the Windows blog: Building Bing Smart Search for Windows 8.1.

This is the future of search. Be part of it!

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Sitelink Extensions Now Available in ALL Bing Ads Markets!

As part of our commitment to provide a global platform for all advertisers on the Yahoo Bing Network, Bing Ads is very excited to announce that Sitelink Extensions are now available in ALL Bing Ads markets!

In addition to the US and UK, you may now display Sitelink Extensions on your mainline ads targeting Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Venezuela. Those already using Sitelink Extensions in these newly enabled markets* will see them displayed automatically.

Bing Ads search ad with sitelink extensions

Studies consistently show that ads with sitelinks yield a higher CTR (Click-Through-Rate) than those without. A recent study** of US and UK advertisers found that including sitelinks resulted in an average CTR 15-25% above the standard online search ad without sitelinks. Performance was particularly strong in the UK market’s Travel, Health, and Finance verticals, shown below.

Bing Ads_Sitelinks CTR Lift by UK Vertical

We look forward to your feedback, and ensuring this feature takes your search marketing campaign to the next level. A special thank you to our pilot advertisers for helping us to test this feature before its release.

Thank you,

Tor and Aurea*

*This blog post was co-authored by Aurea Astro

* Traffic on Yahoo! sites in some of these markets is still ramping and will be complete by the end of July. 

**During our US pilot of the feature, participating advertisers using sitelinks experienced an average click-through rate 15-25% above that of the standard search ad without sitelinks. We’re pleased to report that advertisers in our recent UK pilot had a similar result.

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