Matt Bisson

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Close Variants are Coming to Bing Ads Phrase Match (US Only)

Back in September, we announced the release of Close Variants in Exact Match and Close Variants in Broad Match Modifier, which resulted in the inclusion of minor grammatical variations, such as plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, spacing and misspellings on your exact matches.  Starting this week, Bing Ads will roll-out the inclusion of close variants in phrase match for the US market.  

Given the success this technology has had on driving quality click volume to our customers for their exact and Broad Match Modifier matches, we’ve been testing this feature on phrase match as well.  We found that adding close variants to phrase match improves click volume for our customers -upwards of 5% overall - by better matching the searcher intent with advertisers.

The close variants feature is designed to help optimize for you and simplify your keyword matching, ensuring that your ad shows when the query varies only slightly from the keywords you have already selected.

This will be limited to the US market for now.  Below is a snapshot of examples:

Questions? Comments? Leave them below, or ping us on Twitter.

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Bing Ads is Launching Close Variants in Exact Match (US Only)

Starting this week, Bing Ads will roll-out the inclusion of close variants in exact match in the US market. Exact match will now permanently include minor grammatical variations, such as plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, spacing and misspellings.

Based on our prior testing, we found that exact match close variants helped to drive more highly qualified click volume to your campaigns, improving your presence on the queries that were the most relevant to your products and services. In aggregate, tests resulted in a 2-3% increase in exact match clicks without impacting your ROI[1].

Exact match close variants has been designed to match your ad to queries that represent exactly the same intent to those you are already using. The close variants feature does the work to optimize for you, ensuring that your ad shows when the query varies only slightly from the keywords you have already selected.

In the United States only, this change covers the below close variant types:

We will continue to provide the tools to control your participation across the Bing Ads UI, in Bing Ads Editor and the API. To indicate your preference for this feature, go to "Advanced Settings", and then choose your preference in the "Keyword Matching Options" section.

Thank you for your continued support.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below or ping us on Twitter.

[1] Internal Microsoft data, August – September 2014

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New in Bing Ads: Dynamic Sitelinks Can Help Improve Relevance and Click-Through Rates for SMB Advertisers

When customers are actively searching for products or services that interest them, the more relevant and specific the information they find is, the more likely they are to go from inquiry to conversion. With that in mind, the Bing Ads teams have been hard at work developing Dynamic Sitelinks, a new feature designed to help small-to-medium businesses by enhancing your ads’ relevance via surfacing useful and related sitelink information.

Like Ad Extensions, Dynamic Sitelinks is another way to help your potential customers evaluate what your web site has to offer prior to clicking through, which saves them time and provides you more relevant customer opportunities. However, Dynamic Sitelinks is an ‘annotation’, which means that Bing Ads dynamically creates the content for you from content already on your page.

Introducing Dynamic Sitelinks

Dynamic Sitelinks are clickable text additions to your ad that help enrich and enhance the information you’ve already supplied through your headline and ad copy. While you would pay for a click on your ad’s headline, as this is dynamically created for you any clicks that occur on the Dynamic Sitelinks appearing within your ad are at no cost to you whatsoever (for more information, review the FAQ below).

 

 

How Dynamic Sitelinks Work

If your display URL domain has deep links information available, then you may be a candidate for Dynamic Sitelinks.

Content that’s highly relevant to a user’s search query is pulled from your ads’ landing pages through the Bing algorithm as a means of providing your potential customers with a sneak peek at some of the more specific information that they’ll find, should they click through to your site. This supplementary information can help attract more clicks and increase user confidence in the relevancy of your ads at no cost to you, the advertiser.

Based on internal data collection in the US, Bing advertisers whose ads feature Dynamic Sitelinks can not only increase the size of their mainline ads, but could also see an increase in click through rates of up to 14%[1], all with no extra work on your part to set anything up.

Dynamic Sitelinks will start to roll out to US advertisers this week, completing sometime before the holidays. In the meantime, be sure to check out Location Extensions and Call Extensions to add more relevance and specificity to your ads, if you don’t already have them enabled in your campaigns.

NOTE: Dynamic Sitelinks will not appear in your ad if you have enabled Sitelink Extensions – a superior version of Dynamic Sitelinks that allows for greater control in that you can customize which links appear in your ad (more on this below). Advertisers who have enabled Sitelink Extensions often better rates of performance when compared to Dynamic Sitelinks.

No doubt, you’ll have some questions about Dynamic Sitelinks. To that end, we’ve assembled this FAQ to help answer some of them, but feel free to leave a comment below if there’s anything you’re wondering that we haven’t addressed here:

Frequently Asked Questions about Dynamic Sitelinks

Q: How are Dynamic Sitelinks created?
A:
The Bing algorithm matches your Display URL domain, e.g. “Microsoft.com,” with available deep links information. Sitelinks are pulled from Bing’s knowledge base automatically, requiring no additional effort. This feature automatically appears at the time the ad is delivered. 

Q: Is there anything advertisers can do to adjust the Dynamic Sitelinks text?
A:
As this is a dynamic feature, there is no way to adjust text within the annotation itself.

However, if you’d like to further tailor the message, you may choose to create Sitelinks via the Ad Extension tab in the UI (Sitelink Extensions are also available in the API and Bing Ads Editor). Use of this extension will allow you to customize:

Messages – You can include multiple specific calls to action like, “Sign up for daily deals” (which is not available in the annotation)

Data – You can direct potential customers to specific web pages you wish to promote

Targeting – The Site Link extension allows geo-targeting based on you goals

You may also opt out of Dynamic Sitelinks at any time by contacting Support, or if you have one, your Account Manager.

Q: How will this affect any A/B testing an advertiser is running with ad creative?
A:
 Dynamic Sitelinks will not impact ad rotation, and should allow you to continue to test creative. However, at this time, campaign analytics reporting will not account for any ads impacted by this annotation.

If you have any concerns regarding A/B testing, it is recommended that you either create your own Sitelink Extensions and track performance in the UI or API, or opt out of Dynamic Sitelinks.

Q: Is there the potential for marketing messages to be mixed with Dynamic Sitelinks content?
A:
 The Dynamic Sitelinks algorithm will continue to be fine-tuned, however, you can choose and edit your ad’s site links by creating Sitelink Extensions.

Comments? Questions? Leave them below, or ping us on Twitter.

NOTE: The information contained in this blog post is intended for agencies and advertisers that are self-managed or supported by Microsoft.  If you are an agency or advertiser managed by Yahoo, the details therein may not be applicable, and you are encouraged to contact your Account Representative for more information. 


[1] Internal Microsoft data, August 2014

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Bing Ads Now Includes Close Variants in Broad Match Modifier (US Only)

Broad match modifier is a feature which helps you narrow down your broad match, to ensure that you can better control the intent of the users seeing your ads, but still benefit from the additional volume that broad match offers. However, to date, you may have been missing out on keywords with the very intent you are looking for, which are misspelled, abbreviated or written using different grammar.

To ensure that you maximize impressions that are relevant to your modifiers, Bing Ads is launching close variants for broad match modifier. This means that your ad will now also show when the user types queries which contain minor grammatical variations of your modifiers, including plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, spacing, misspellings, accents, punctuation, and equivalent expressions.

The following examples show what’s changing:

We are confident that this feature will help to drive more highly qualified click volume to your campaigns. In testing, we have seen some promising results, with click-through rates increasing on average 3%* for ads using broad match modifier with close variants applied, at no impact to average cost-per-click.   

We are rolling out the feature initially in the US market, ramping in early September. Close variants for exact match for international Bing Ads markets is in testing stage, and we will notify customers who advertise in these markets as it becomes ready for launch.  

At Bing Ads, we are passionate about listening to your feedback. Please share your thoughts on our User Voice forum here.

Comments? Questions? Feel free to leave them below, or ping us on Twitter.

*Internal Microsoft data, US, July 2014

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Bing Ads is Testing Close Variant Matching (US Only)

Starting this week, Bing Ads will start testing the inclusion of close variants in exact match in the US market for a portion of queries. During this test, exact match will include minor grammatical variations, such as plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, spacing and misspellings.

Exact match close variants will help drive more highly qualified click volume to your campaigns, maximizing your presence on the queries that are the most relevant to your products and services. Ultimately, this feature will be designed to match your ad to queries that represent exactly the same intent to those you are already using. The close variants feature does the work to optimize for you, ensuring that your ad shows when the query varies only slightly from the keywords you have already selected.

In the United States only, we expect this test to cover the below close variant types:

The Bing Ads close variants test will be subject to extremely high relevancy thresholds, and close variants are mined from a number of highly qualified sources.

NOTE: We understand and respect that some advertisers would like to maintain precise control over their keyword choice during this test, and that’s why we have provided the tools to control your participation in Bing Ads, in Bing Ads Editor and the API. To indicate your preference for this feature, go to "Advanced Settings", and then choose your preference in the "Keyword Matching Options" section.

Thank you for your continued support.

Comments? Questions? Feel free to leave them below, or ping us on Twitter.

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Bing Ads Auction Explained: How Bid, Cost-per-Click and Quality Score Work Together

Special thanks to content contributors Aurea Astro and Mike McMeekin.

The Bing Ads team is always thinking about how to improve your experience with our product and services.  One way is providing insight and transparency into our systems, since knowing context can help inform day-to-day decisions.  In this spirit, we would like to explain just how our Ad Auction works (if you'd like to download a PDF version of this post for future reference, you can do so here).

The Ad Auction

Every time someone performs a search on the Yahoo! Bing Network, we run an auction – an online market not unlike a real auction – to determine which ads are shown and where they are placed on the page.

 

 

Advertisers compete in this auction by bidding on keywords that match their product or service to the search, and win an opportunity to display their advertisement on the search results page, as illustrated above.  The price the advertiser pays every time someone clicks on his or her ad (CPC, or Cost-Per-Click) is also determined here in the auction.

What kinds of factors dictate where and when your ad lands, and how do they interact?

Quality Score vs. Quality in the Auction

Let’s begin with Quality Score (QS). Most advertisers are familiar with the QS displayed in Bing Ads Web UI and API.  It is a reporting metric that indicates how well the ad is performing relative to expectations and competition.  Quality Score in this form serves as guidance for advertisers on how to improve their ad to increase traffic and revenue.  However, it is not the same metric used for ranking and pricing in the ad auction.

The complex mechanism by which QS is determined in the auction enables us to reconcile the motivation between searchers and advertisers to benefit each[1].   

The principal behind QS is the same regardless of the context in which it is applied– namely, to help advertisers gauge the degree by which their ad satisfies the intent of a search query.  The ad auction looks keenly at the quality of the advertisement (indicated by measures of its relevancy outlined here) to ensure that the right ads are shown to the right users, rather than just the ad of the highest bidder.  For example, if a user types “Las Vegas Hotels” into Bing, it is highly unlikely we will show an ad for “New York Flights” because of its low relevance to search intent, despite the fact that its advertiser may have the highest bid.

Showing only the most relevant advertisements ensures a quality search experience on the Yahoo! Bing Network, and is our primary goal. 

While QS used by advertisers is not used in the auction, it is useful to describe how the data used to generate QS also helps determine an ad’s “Ad Rank.”

Ad Rank

Ad Rank is a metric we use in the auction to rank ads of varying quality and different bids. 

Generally speaking, we calculate Ad Rank by multiplying your bid by various scores related to your ad’s quality.  Let’s use Quality Score to observe how the auction works in the example on the next page.

Four advertisers, each with varying Quality Scores and bids, compete against each other for a spot on the results page.  As you can see, although George has the highest bid, Jerry wins the auction and is awarded by ranking #1.  Notice that because Jerry’s QS is four times higher than George’s, Jerry is able to achieve an Ad Rank twice as good (8 vs. 2).

          

So now that we’ve seen how Quality Score and Ad Rank interact in the Ad Auction, what determines how much an advertiser actually pays every time a user clicks on his or her ad?

Cost-per-click (CPC)

Your CPC is a function of your Ad Rank relative to that of the competitor right behind you.  CPC is calculated as follows:

Let’s see how much Jerry pays for a click in our example auction, using the above formula.
                                         

We divide Elaine’s Ad Rank (6) by Jerry’s Ad Rank (8), and multiply that result by Jerry’s bid to get $1.50[2].  Thus, every time someone clicks on Jerry’s ad, he is charged $1.50.

There are a couple points to be aware of here:

First, notice that while Jerry is #1, he observes a lower CPC than Elaine and George because his QS is high.  While such a scenario certainly is possible and happens frequently in fact, for the most part higher positions cost more per click because of the greater competition for them.

Second, notice that if we were to raise Jerry’s bid, his CPC would not change, regardless of how high he raised it.  We recommend you try it right now by going through the equation for Jerry using a $20 dollar bid instead of a $2 dollar bid to observe the pricing function in action.

So now that we’ve seen how CPC is calculated, what you can do to influence it? 

Internal Factors that Influence the CPC

While you may not have control over the market and your competition, there are several important factors you do have control over.  Let’s look at these.

Bid

As an advertiser, your bid is single-handedly the most direct and influential lever in your control to maximize ad rank and the likelihood your ad is displayed.  A bid represents the maximum price an advertiser is willing to pay.  However, it is very often the case that what you actually pay is lower than that amount.  

Ideally, the higher you bid, the higher you value the click.  Bing Ads uses the auction to ensure that it maximizes clicks where advertisers value them the most.  Therefore, it is generally the case that increasing your bid results in a more favorable ad position, which in turn increases the number of clicks on your ad.  Along these lines, an increase in bid that does not improve ad position will not directly increase your CPC.

Quality Score

Quality is a dynamic measure, so as the performance of your ad changes over time, your quality score can also change.  Holding all other factors constant (including what your competitors are doing):

Increase QS --> Lower CPC for the same ad position.

In turn, to lift your QS, we recommend improving these three areas under your control:

  • Keyword Relevance
  • Landing Page Relevance
  • Landing Page Quality

Keyword Relevance

Keyword relevance (KWR) is a measure of how “clickable” your ad is compared to the competitors in the auction – this is often referred to as Click-Through-Rate (CTR).  There are two important notes here:

First, you could have a high KWR score because everyone else is doing poorly in comparison; don’t assume that you cannot increase your keyword’s CTR even when your KWR or QS is high. 

Second, while they may be correlated, the CTR you see in your account is not the same CTR used as this metric or in the auction.  CTR must be normalized for dozens of variables besides that of the advertiser’s. 

For instance, because two ads cannot show in the same position at the same time, we must normalize CTR performance for ad position.  Normalization involves a sophisticated mathematical process, and we therefore recommend that advertisers not evaluate their ad’s performance on CTR alone. 

Again though, the underlying principal remains the same: the more relevant your keywords are to the words or phrases users type in when they perform a search, the higher your ad’s CTR, and the higher your QS. 

Landing Page Relevance

It isn’t enough to get a user to click on your ad; the content you ultimately deliver needs to be relevant to his/her needs.  Bing Ads assigns a score to your landing page (LP), which indicates how well it meets search intent.  

Landing Page Quality

Although an ad may have high keyword relevance (“clickability) and contain content that is relevant, it may lead the user to a site that provides a poor experience.  Again, our goal is to provide search users with the best experience possible.  This means displaying only relevant ads that satisfy what they’re searching for, as well as limiting their exposure to sub-par websites[3]

External Factors that Influence the CPC

In most cases, however, there are a set of external factors that can drive fluctuation to prices and ranking:

Competition

As advertisers constantly optimize, your competitors bid may increase or decrease, which in turn changes their Ad Rank.  In some cases this may result in ranking changes, but in many it will just influence pricing.  For example, let’s return to our example auction and look at two different scenarios. 

 

 

If George increases his bid from $3.00 to $3.50, Jerry will observe a 17 percent increase in his CPC.  Although neither Jerry nor George’s positions in the ranking changed, a significant CPC increase happens for Jerry.  You may also notice that even though George increased his bid, his price remains unaffected.  In general, price increases resulting from your higher bid can only happen if there are position changes. 

Model Updates

Because Bing Ads is constantly working to improve user experience and optimize the marketplace, we update our models frequently[4].  Such updates aim to improve the quality score estimation or adjust pricing reserves, which in turn improves performance metrics (like pricing) for individual advertisers, as well as the search experience for users. 

Customer Feedback

Context matters, and we hope pulling back the curtain on how the Ad Auction works will better inform your search marketing strategy going forward.  We invite your feedback and suggestions for additional insight into Bing Ads that you feel would help you maximize your performance on the Yahoo! Bing Network.

 


Special thanks to content contributors Aurea Astro and Mike McMeekin.

[1] Landing page relevance, user engagement with your ad and site, index of keyword relevance comparisons, and more interact in a detailed, data-driven mechanism that determines QS in the ad auction.  The dynamic nature of QS as a living, breathing metric that incorporates relative values in the market may produce unexpected results from time to time for an advertiser only familiar with the factors of QS that he/she can control.  Across the industry, QS is the product of relevant values between all the players in an ad auction. So, for example, if you improve your QS without changing your bid, and your CPC rises, it is most likely that the average QS amongst your competitors also rose.  Your CPC is relative to not only your QS, but the QS of those around you.  

[2] (6/8) * $2.00 = $1.50.

[3]Interstitials or processes by which users are forced to enter personal information before they can move forward are typically considered sub-par, even if the page content is relevant.

[4] We update data in the model frequently, not the algorithm itself.  The result of these updates is a more accurate Quality Score for advertisers.

 
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