As you probably already know, Microsoft recently launched its newest search engine: Bing. Microsoft’s goal for Bing is to take share away from Google by offering more relevant results to the searcher, especially in the Health, Travel and Local verticals. Microsoft has done a good job in those verticals, and my experience with the engine in all verticals has been generally positive, though I have seen some hiccups (one recent search returned results in Thai and German-not very relevant to a guy in Brooklyn).
Too Focused On The User Experience
Unfortunately, in focusing so much on improving the user experience from Live Search (Microsoft’s old, unmissed search engine), the engineers at Microsoft have hurt the experience of its advertisers. Advertisers across the country, including our own clients, have seen declines in impressions and clicks since Bing’s launch. This is because Bing tracks its users’ behavior. If it notices that a particular user tends to not click on ads, it reduces the number of ads shown to that user. Also, if a particular user conducts numerous searches on the same or similar keywords without clicking on a particular company’s ad, Bing will stop showing that company’s ad for those keywords.
Those aspects of Bing’s advertising system are confirmed and well known. However, I suspect that if you don’t click on a specific company’s ads over a few searches, Bing will stop showing you ads from that company even when you search other keywords in a campaign. Microsoft’s account reps aren’t privy to all of Bing’s secret, so they can’t confirm this, but they think I’m right.
Help Is On The Way
Path Interactive is working to make sure that Microsoft fully understands the difficulty this issue can cause for our clients. Fortunately, Microsoft has heard our suggestions, and is now working on something that will allow us to confirm that an ad is live and active. Google has had such a diagnostic tool for a while now. We like it because it allows us to conduct searches without racking up impressions (thereby hurting quality scores), and we have been encouraging Yahoo and Microsoft to develop equivalent tools. Microsoft promises to finish its version soon. In the meantime, our advice is: STOP SEARCHING FOR YOUR ADS SO MUCH-YOU’RE HURTING YOUR QUALITY SCORES!
James Connell is Search Director at Path Interactive, a NYC-based interactive marketing firm.