Bing Ads (formerly Microsoft adCenter) has made great strides over the last couple years. I hate to slam what is an otherwise sophisticated system, which has proven itself a quality advertising platform. Its greatest flaw is that it just can’t deliver enough traffic. But, the problems I have experienced with it lately should not be happening.
Invalid Click Detection
I don’t normally like to brag, but I can’t help it this time. This is simply amazing. I have an ad group that had a 640% CTR earlier today – 32 clicks and 5 impressions. I have another ad group with a better than 250% CTR. That’s right, users love my ads so much they are hitting the back button and clicking on the ad over and over again.
I called Bing support. They tell me they have two automated click-detection systems. One checks and immediately removes bad clicks. The other one does a check before the client is billed. I told them anyone should realize this is fraudulent. They said they could put in a ticket, but unless I give them my client’s weblogs, we may not get approved for reversals.
That’s what they’re supposed to say, but even an intern could see the flaw in that logic. The only way to get 5 impressions and 32 clicks is for 1 or more users to click, hit back, click, hit back – at least 7 or more times in a row. I can see the occasional impression getting a 200% click-through rate, but 640%?! That’s transparent fraud.
I’m sure the claim will be approved, but the fraud used the entire budget for that specific campaign that day. This is awful and should’ve been fixed in the last couple of years.
Spam on Search Partners
This is another form of “click fraud,” and it has forced me to opt-out all of my clients from appearing on Bing/Yahoo Search Partners. We’ve gotten many phony leads and absurdly high conversion rates on multiple clients over the past couple years.
A long-time client of mine in the financial services arena gets spam every month. It is usually an absurdly high conversion rate on a keyword that blows up in traffic out of nowhere. These are usually originated from a whole string of out-of-state IP’s on different machines. I’m sure they’re running proxies, masking IPs or whatever.
The money usually winds up being credited back after an investigation, but I have to initiate it. Somehow, Google AdWords isn’t having the same problem. I’m not getting a huge number of bogus conversions from their system. No system can stop fraud, but it can be limited better.
In the meantime, none of my clients will be running on Bing search partners.
Bidding with No Competitors
Last week I found a quirk about Bing’s bidding. Bing simply says you will pay just more than your next closest competitor for a click, which is okay. I prefer AdWords Ad Rank auction system for improving quality in SERPS, but I don’t have a real complaint about Bing’s bid process. The problem occurs when you have no competitor at all on a search, which most often occurs on a partner site or for brand terms.
If there is no competition, you will pay your Max CPC instead. I didn’t realize this, and I find it astounding. The only way to handle that, to get the best rates for a client, would be to have the search partners in a separate campaign with lower bids.
Most advertising platforms realize that having lower CPCs encourages early adoption. Advertisers want to jump in while the clicks are cheap. The competition grows from that point as bidding increases to maintain position. This is awful, and it smacks of opportunism.
Missing Geography? Ads Shown Globally
Bing Ads has a wonderful import tool that allows an advertiser to pull ads, keywords, and campaigns from another source – most commonly Google AdWords. This works great and has saved me a lot of time in the past. Unfortunately, it has a couple of quirks that don’t work well.
Annoyingly, it doesn’t remove old ads or keywords that have already been deleted out of Google, but it handles pretty much everything else. I can’t really complain about that tiny little flaw, though PPC managers need to be aware of it to keep from bidding on keywords you don’t want any longer.
However, this post is about exposing critical flaws, and you might be in for a doozy. If Bing Ads doesn’t have the exact city from Google, or can’t match it up properly, Microsoft will give the campaign no targeting at all. Logic would suggest the campaign should not run until a geographic region is input, and it should prompt you with a warning. Logic does not apply here, though. Bing Ads defaults to running the campaign globally. Microsoft recognizes the problem and will likely refund your money up to 45 days after the occurrence. That’s good news, but it should be their top priority to fix the problem.
So, Microsoft, please fix these issues post-haste. As Google rolls out its Enhanced Campaigns, advertisers are getting upset with AdWords. This is your chance to win some love back. PPC Managers, be aware of these flaws so you don’t have to deal with the repercussions until they’re remedied.