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Microsoft is expanding its responsive search ads beta to all advertisers.

Responsive search ads are an increasingly popular way to automatically tailor your ads for the specific needs of individual customers. 

Essentially, the advertiser can create a number of combinations for both headlines and descriptions within a single campaign, which the ad platform then selects based on a specific search query. 

In the case of Microsoft’s responsive search ads, advertisers can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. When shown, the ads can display up to 3 titles and 2 descriptions. 

After the campaign has run for long enough to gather data, Microsoft will also select the top-performing ad combinations in a report for advertisers, while underperforming combinations will be shown less often or not at all. 

The company says responsive search ads can benefit brands in a number of ways, including:

  • Reducing bulky operations and saving time
  • Serving the right message to the right user at the right time
  • Improving overall ad performance

To ensure the best performance using responsive search ads, Microsoft recommends following these tips:

  • Create responsive search ads in the same campaigns with your current expanded text ads.
  • Provide at least 8-10 unique headlines and at least 2 distinct descriptions with a clear call-to-action message.
  • Review performance regularly.
  • Pinning a headline or description will ensure it’s displayed in the desired position.

All you have to do to join the beta is fill out a short form available here.

Bing is changing up how ads appear in its search engine by increasing the number of ads present at the bottom of the page and removing text ads from the sidebar of search results for US users.

Specifically, Bing is increasing from 3 bottom-of-the-page ads to 4 ads and removing sidebar text ads in the United States. Product ads, on the other hand, will remain within the sidebar.

This change also means that Bing will no longer be allowing advertisers from the US to run sidebar text ads at all.

According to the announcement, Bing was motivated to remove sidebar text ads because bottom-of-the-page ads often include richer ad formats that provide more in-depth information that possible in the sidebar.

While these changes are currently limited to the United States and Bing Ads will continue offering sidebar text ads in other countries, the company says it will be considering removing the ad type in other counties in the future.

As the announcement says, “as part of the constant evolution of the Bing search engine results page (SERP) to provide more value for our users and our advertisers we are regularly evaluating performance and quality of our ads, including ad position on the SERPs.”

Based on their data, Bing says removing the sidebar text ads increases the overall clicks for advertisers, especially those running Mainline Text Ads and Product Ads.

Bing is giving advertisers until July 31st of this year to adjust to the new extended text ads format. After that, they will have to make the switch because Bing will stop supporting the creation and editing of the popular standard text ad format.

The company is giving some leeway to those who still prefer standard text ads, saying “all your existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads for the foreseeable future.” Eventually Bing will stop supporting and serving standard text ads entirely, but they will give advertisers a warning when they plan to finally shut it down entirely.

To prepare for the change, Bing listed several best practices and tips to make the most of expanded text ads (EXTAs):

Create EXTAs within existing campaigns and ad groups along current STAs

  • Use Standard Text Ads as a baseline to measure how well Expanded Text Ads are performing
  • Create a 1:1 ratio of EXTA to STA ads in each ad group to maximize EXTA impressions
    • Helps avoid impression and click loss while testing EXTAs
    • Assures that EXTAs inherit all ad extensions and other set ups from the existing STAs
  • Once you are confident in the Expanded Text Ads performance, customers can move to 100% adoption, and delete their STAs

Take full advantage of the additional character limits

  • Use your best performing STA copy as a starting point when creating EXTAs
  • Experiment with messaging (try different length combinations)
  • Remember that headlines are important. Longer headlines help increase the visual space of text ads and help communicate additional information to searchers
  • Think about using content such as domain, display, description, query in ad title 2

It’s no secret that there are lots of bad people trying to operate scams online. Bing’s latest report on bad ads makes that crystal clear, as the search engine has removed over 130 million ads and banned 175,000 advertisers in just the last year.

Somewhat surprisingly, that number is actually 120 million fewer ads than in 2015. In comparison, both those ads combined are still dwarfed by Google’s 1.7 billion blocked ads in 2016.

As the Bing Ads’ Ad Quality in Review 2016 report explains, the ads were rejected for “direct policy compliance issues or intention to mislead users.” It continues:

“We introduced new policy around software download advertising that reduced unwanted and potentially malicious ads for many top free software programs. We ramped up systems that detect browser hijacking ads, phishing attempts, scareware ads, ads targeting the most common sites on the internet, and ads with multimedia content. We also enforced policies directed towards gender determination ads to comply with country specific regulations.”

The report specifically highlights six different types of bad ads it removed in 2016:

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  • Phishing: More than 5,000 advertisers and 7,000 sites were blocked for phishing.
  • Counterfeit: More than 1 million ads were blocked for selling counterfeit goods.
  • Tech Support Scams: More than 17 million ads were blocked for third-party tech support scams.
  • Download: More than 4 million ads were rejected for violating download-related guidelines.
  • Scareware: More than 300 advertisers were blocked for ads that highjack the browser or scare users that their PC is infected.
  • Misleading Ads: 7 million ads were blocked for misleading content. This is a huge drop compared to 2015, when Bing rejected 30 million ads.

Bing emphasized the scale of their efforts with a final comparison, saying “if one person took a minute to find and take down a bad ad or actor, it would take them nearly 500 years to remove the same number of bad ads or actors found by our automated methods in 2016.”

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While Google largely pretends Bing Ads doesn’t exist, Bing has been working hard to make it easier for advertisers to manage campaigns for both services from one place.

This started by offering the ability to import Google AdWords campaigns directly to Bing Ads, but now the company is expanding this with the ability to automatically sync your campaigns across platforms.

With this new feature, advertisers no longer have to make manual updates to their Bing Ads campaigns if they decide to tweak things on AdWords. Instead, when anything like ad copy, campaign budgets, and ad extensions is updated in AdWords, the changes will automatically be applied to a synced Bing Ads campaign.

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To do this, go through the typical process to import your campaigns into Bing Ads. At the end, you’ll be asked if you would like to import data now, at a later date, or on a recurring basis. Campaigns set to import on a regular basis can be set to update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Once you’ve done this, you can also view your import schedule and history, to ensure your campaigns are being properly updated. From here you can also pause or edit scheduled imports.

It sounds like Bing is already at work to expand these features even more, as they say to expect enhanced compatibility with multi-language targeting in the not too distant future.

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Bing is officially expanding their ad format selection to include app install ads in a pilot program open to all US advertisers. These ads are designed specifically to drive users to install apps when searching from their mobile devices.

The new format isn’t exactly revolutionary. Google has offered similar adds which directed searchers to the iOS App Store or Google Play Store for a fairly long time. However, this is the first time these ads have been available for Bing advertisers.

Setting up App Install Ads is easily done when selecting your ad type in your campaign settings screen. Once your campaign is running, Bing will then detect what type of device a searcher is using and show ads with a direct link to installing an app through their device’s app store.

”Using App Install Ads gets app customers to your app store directly, eliminating the extra time, navigation, and clicks they would otherwise need to take from your website.”

App Install Ads do have a few quirks compared to older ad formats. For example, there is no display URL on the ad. Instead, any clicks will take users directly to an app store page. The new ad format is also limited to just iOS and Android apps. There is no indication whether they will eventually support Windows or Windows phone apps in the future.