Keyword normalization is the process by which extraneous characters, such as punctuation marks, are removed from both keywords added to Bing Ads campaigns and customer queries entered when searching with Bing. When it comes to setting up your Bing Ads campaigns, keywords are normalized when you add them to an ad group. If you add both "bike repair" and "bike-repair" as keywords, our editorial review process will return a duplicate keywords error because after the normalization process takes place -- they hyphen between the words would be removed -- these keywords are identical.
Keywords are also normalized for Bing searches to allow more user queries to match your keywords, thus potentially increasing ad coverage. Knowing which characters are removed can help you make your keywords more effective. For example, suppose you bid on the keyword "bike repair." If someone searches for "bike-repair", the hyphen is removed and because it matches your keyword, your ads may serve.
Based on advertiser feedback, we are taking a phased approach to relaxing constraints around normalization when adding keywords to your Bing Ads campaigns. There will be no change to how keyword normalization will work when matching keywords to user queries.
Here’s a brief background on what it looks like today and how it will work in the future...
Up until now:
1. We normalize and reject certain variations of a keyword after one version of a keyword has already been entered into our system, e.g. if “café” was already added as a keyword, we would reject “cafe” as duplicate and if “house-boat” was already in our system, we would reject “house boat” as a duplicate keyword. Note that the context here is within an ad group.
2. Whichever keyword was accepted will match against all versions of the search term that normalizes to the same version. So, searches for “café” and “cafe” will show ads for your keyword even though only one version of that keyword was accepted.
This led to some challenges for advertisers as you need to handle keywords being rejected and have to resort to workarounds to enter these keywords that you can enter in competing platforms.
Here’s the screen shot of the error message you would see in Bing Ads Editor up until this change.
2. Both listings will match normalized versions of the search term. So "café" and "cafe" bidded keyword will match queries for “café” or “cafe” depending on various auction factors and signals like probability of click etc.,
Here’s a screen shot of the sample set of keywords being accepted in Bing Ads editor, which uses our Bulk API.
Bing Ads web interface:
At this point, this new behavior is supported only in Bing Ads Editor client and Bulk APIs. You will not be able to add both keywords “bike repair” and “bike-repair” that normalize to same form through the Bing Ads web user interface (UI). This limitation is only for the addition of keywords to ad groups. You will, however, be able to modify the bid and match types of these keywords from the web UI once they are added through Bing Ads Editor.
We do have plans to relax normalization constraints in our Bing Ads Web UI in the very near future, so please stay tuned for more details.
Program Manager, Bing Ads Platform