adCenter Miffed about Matching Series - Part 1: Understanding Match Types for Paid Search Success

Welcome to the first installment in this three part series dedicated to correcting the common misunderstandings and highlighting the key functionality differences between match types, negative keywords & engine matching methodologies on Microsoft Advertising adCenter, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google AdWords paid search platforms.

This week's blog will focus specifically on the essential differences between the various bidded match types, and how when understood and used together in perfect unison can effectively drive highly relevant, converting traffic to adCenter paid search campaigns.

Introducing the Core Three Bidded Match Types

When biding on keywords within adCenter, you can choose one or more of three bidded match type options: Exact, Phrase, or Broad match. These options give you greater control over how your ads get matched to potential customers' search queries.

Although adCenter and most major search advertising systems use multiple match types for every keyword (Google also uses 3), there are some important differences in how match types work within adCenter. Users of Yahoo! Search Marketing outside of existing Search Alliance markets will notice variants in the number of match types and at what level they are set; (Yahoo! users will be accustomed to only Standard match and Advanced match, set at the account, campaign, ad group and keyword levels; they do not allow users to bid separately by match type within the same ad group).

1. Exact Match:

When you select the Exact match type for a keyword, your ad delivers only when a searcher's query is identical to your keyword or its relevant singular/plural variation, after normalization. For example, if you bid on the keyword "car" your ad may deliver on queries for "car" or "cars."

2. Phrase Match:

This option considers your keyword a Phrase match with a user search query if the query includes all the words in the exact order given, in combination with other words either before or after (but not in between) the words in your keyword.

For example, the keyword "red flower" is a phrase match to the search queries "big red flower," "red flower pots," and "red and flower gifts" (remember: "and" is a noise word and will be ignored; see more on Normalisation below). However, "red flower" is not a phrase match to "yellow, red, and blue flower" or "flower red" because words are found in between the keyword phrase, or the words are not in the same order.

3. Broad Match:

When Broad match is deployed, your ad appears if a potential customer performs a search query that contains all of the words in your keyword in a different order, or if the words are in the same order but have other terms that are not noise words between them. For example, the keyword "blue car" is a broad match to the search queries "blue convertible car," "car is red or blue," and "car blue."

However, it will not be matched to "car," "blue," or "red car." (These are possible expanded broad matches; see below.) Note that by this definition, it is impossible for a single-term keyword such as "cars" to be a regular Broad match to any query; it can only be an Exact, Phrase, or Expanded Broad match.

Other Enhanced Match Types Explained.

Additionally as mentioned above, Broad and Phrase match also includes the following enhancements:

  • Expanded Broad Match: Automatically matches your ads to words that are semantically related to the keywords on which you bid (whereas Google requires the addition of a + symbol to appear on extended broad match, adCenter does not and all keywords will be treated as extended). This match type expands on the set of queries to which an ad Broad matches. For example, if you bid on the keyword "yoga," Expanded Broad might match the ad to a search for Ashtanga, a form of yoga. Bidding on Broad match automatically counts as a bid on Expanded Broad at the same amount. Both types of Broad match appear as the Broad Match type in performance reports, if the column 'Delivered Match Type' is included.


  • Entity Detection: Recognises a multiple-word entity in a search query string and treats that entity as if it were a single word. Ads are not displayed when a searcher enters search terms that appear to match your keywords but instead have significantly different meanings. It can be thought of as a filter on top of Phrase and Broad match that restricts the cases in which an ad is Phrase or Broad matched. For example, if someone searches for "Bill Gates," entity detection recognises that Bill Gates is an entity and does not allow ads to Phrase match because you bid on the keywords "bill" or "gates."


  • Plural Matching: With each match type, you can choose to bid separately on the singular and plural forms of a keyword. Or, you can simply bid on one form and adCenter will automatically deliver relevant traffic on the keyword's singular and plural versions, as long as the meaning is preserved. For example, if you bid on "car," your bid and ad copy will also apply to searches for "cars" and a bid on the keyword "cars" will apply to searches for "car." If you prefer to only bid on either the singular or plural form of a keyword, you can exclude traffic on the other form by applying it as a negative keyword.

I heard that Microsoft Advertising adCenter does Content Matching too?

That is correct, however, Content Match functionality is currently only available in the US and Canada adCenter markets.

Content Match: Triggers the display of your ad on relevant pages of the content network (when enabled in marketplace) - but only if you have chosen to distribute your ad to the content network. Your ads are matched to web pages according to the relevance of your keywords, ad title and description to the web page content. For example, if you sell bicycles, your ads would appear on pages that are about bicycles or cycling.

One final thing. what is 'normalisation' and how does it work with my adCenter keywords and bids?

All adCenter keywords and queries are normalised before being matched together; that is, any noise words or symbols are generally removed from both keywords and queries before determining whether a keyword is a match to a particular query. For example, "dog house" is an exact match to both "dog house" and "in the dog house" (since "in" and "the" are noise words which are not considered). Microsoft adCenter also corrects commonly misspelled words in search queries before match types are applied. (Normalisation does not apply to negative keywords.)

English (British - American) Noise Words: a, an, about, at, by, for, from, how, in, is, of, on, or, the, what with and to.

Please join me again next week when I'll be discussing the differences between Microsoft Advertising adCenter negative keywords and how they work in comparison to Yahoo! Search Marketing & Google AdWords paid search programs.



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