The science of brand bidding: Follow-up and FAQs

The pros and cons of bidding on your own brand terms can keep you running in circles. On one hand, bidding on your own brand terms could be a waste of money if your organic results are showing up anyway. On the other, what do you lose (or, what’s the cost) when you don’t invest in bidding on your brand terms?

The data scientists at Bing Ads wanted answers on the brand-term bidding question, so they created tests, conducted the study and compiled the data. Led by Lars Hirsch, our Director of Advertiser Science at Bing Ads, we recently hosted a webinar that detailed the research results and explained the consequences to advertisers who choose to bid on their own brand terms – and likewise, the consequences if you do not. Not only that, we shared how you can run this test with your own data so you too can answer the bid or not to bid question.

Watch the webinar

Get the content

As promised, we’re answering questions we didn’t have time to get to during the webinar and including a quick recap of the most popular questions. If you’d like to share other thoughts or have more questions tell us in the comments or use #AskBingAds on social to join the conversation.

Right. Let's get to it.

Q. The SEO team discourages bidding on brand terms because they will negatively affect organic traffic for brand queries. How do I determine if paid brand keywords are cannibalizing organic traffic?

A.  When it comes to brand-term bidding, partnering with your SEO team is important. Your SEO team needs to know what keywords you’re bidding on and you need to know what terms they’re optimizing for. So this is a great time to work together. Start by sharing our research results and vertical data, found in the webinar content. Then set up your own test (instructions also in the presentation) and share the results. The data doesn’t lie; we suspect your gain in total clicks across organic and paid search as a result of bidding on your own brand terms will convince the SEO team that it’s a good strategy to try. If you don’t see significant increase in total clicks (across your organic and paid results), then brand-term bidding might not work well for you.

Q.  Wait. Are competitors allowed to bid on my business name?

A.  You bet they are. And you can bid on theirs. This policy varies a bit by market; take a closer look at our intellectual property policy and other editorial policies. Note that you can bid on their name with keywords; you cannot use competitor’s names in your ad copy (some rare exceptions can apply).

Q.  How is the brand ad data affected when there is a news story about the company brand?

A.  It depends on your brand and on how national the news story is. If you are testing brand ads by geography (rather than by day of week), and the news story is national, both your control and your test should be equally affected. If the news story is local (say, in Boston) and you’re running tests in Boston and Chicago, then the Boston news story will skew your results and you might want to exclude the results from both Boston and Chicago. If you’re testing brand terms by day of week, and a news story affects just one day disproportionately, you might want to exclude that day from the dataset.

Q.  I’d love to see how other industries/verticals fare in the brand bidding testing. Do you have any of these results available?

A.  To date we’ve published our research data in the financial services, retail and travel industries. If you have a Bing Ads account manager, ask to see our data for your specific vertical.

Q. What if there is nobody advertising for my brand terms?

A.  In this case, your risk from competitors is low, but the research shows that you’d still benefit from an increase in total clicks by running brand ads and bidding on your own brand terms. Take a look at the real data examples below: when the social network brand added a brand campaign the number of clicks increased even without the presence of a competitors ad.

 bing ads brand terms

Q.   Does it matter if your business is local and effectively targets customers within a five to ten-mile radius, such as gymnastics or martial art schools?

A.   With local businesses, running the tests based on geography doesn’t make sense, but testing on a day-of-week basis does. Set up and run the day of week test and then review your results. You may not be dealing with the competition that a bigger brand would, but you still have an opportunity to increase the totally number of clicks you receive, according to our research.

Q.  What if your brand is not in the top three in organic search? Does this still help?

A.   Yes. If you’re not showing on the first search results page organically, the only way you’re going to get clicks for your business is to do paid search. Paid search gives you the power to show up as high as your budget (and ad quality) allow. A paid campaign can help support the rank improvement of your organic listings as a result of adjustments you’ll have to make in order to have a high performing paid campaign: landing page optimization, keyword research, ad copy refinement and testing.

Q.  In your testing, did you look at exact match brand, or brand-broad and brand plus modifier?

A.   Our research looked at all ads aggregated across all match types.     

Q. To clarify, those competitor organic clicks had brand identification?

A. Yes they did.

Q. How did competitor's get 39% of the clicks in the travel example? Weren't the keywords trademarks so competitor's couldn't bid?

A. You cannot use trademarked terms in your ad copy, but you can bid on those keywords.

Q. What is an average impression share a brand receives when brand ads are not being displayed?

A. We only looked at click share, not impression share. The average click share is 75%, but it varies a lot by vertical and type of advertiser/product. For example, for some retail brands we have seen click share in the 35-40% range when the brand owner is not advertising.

Q. My company's brand name does not lend to recognition for our product line but in fact is competitive with a comedian who has an ongoing show in Las Vegas. What can we do to be competitive but not at a high CPC? Do you have any suggestions for testing keywords?

A. Your best bet is going to be using negative keywords, which will prevent your ad from showing on terms related to the comedian. For example, -LasVegas, -comedian and -show will go a long way to preventing your ad from showing on a search that's not yours. For keyword research and testing, give Bing Ads Intelligence a try.

What's next?

Check out the webinar if you missed it and get the content to help you set up and run your own brand bidding test. Once you have your results make sure to act on them and implement!

Watch the webinar

Brand Bidding content

Don’t miss out on our next Advertiser Science webinar! You can register now:

Register: The Kevin Bacon Approach to Keyword Attribution

Date: February 29, 2016

Time: 11:00am-12:00pm PST

We’re excited to share more research and insights from Bing Ads and to hear your thoughts in the comments and at #AskBingAds.

Keep reading

Cheat sheet: Bing Ads extensions

Paid search advertisers are constantly in pursuit of new ways to make their ads more appealing to searchers. At this point, most have turned to ad extensions to boost their AdWords click-through rates – Google even uses the expected benefit of ad extensions as part of its Ad Rank formula – but far too few of you have applied the same strategy to your ads on Bing! In fact, many people don’t even realize that Bing offers extensions.

Indeed, there are a wide variety of ad extensions available in Bing Ads, some of which are similar to the ones you’ll find in AdWords and some of which are completely different. The good news is, they are just as easy to set up, are displayed at no additional charge and are just as likely to improve your ad performance.

If you’re ready to “bling out” your Bing ads, here’s a rundown of all of the ad extensions at your disposal:

Sitelink & Enhanced Sitelink Extensions

bing ad extensions

What are they?

Sitelink Extensions allow you to include links below your ads promoting various pages on your site. You can even elect to enhance your Sitelinks by adding two lines of descriptive text along with each link (desktop only).

Who should be using them?

Nearly all of you can benefit from these extensions. When Sitelinks are appended to an ad, its surface area practically doubles (or triples, in some instances), making it significantly more prominent than other, smaller ads on the SERP. As a result, these ads can yield up to a 30% higher click-through rate.

The key with Sitelinks is to ensure you’re only providing links to useful, relevant landing pages. Otherwise, they may distract searchers, derailing your efforts altogether. When setting up your extensions, be sure to consider your searchers’ context and include links that will enhance their experience. Get started by enabling Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads now.

Call Extensions

bing ad extensions

What are they?

Call Extensions give you the opportunity to display your phone number, as well as a click-to-call button, within your ad copy. Bing Call Extensions come in two flavors:

  • Display on ALL devices: The main benefit with this option is that you can enable call tracking to attain in-depth data (call type, duration, etc.) for all PPC-generated phone calls. To do this, a dynamic forwarding number is created to appear in your ads.
  • Display on Smartphones only: With this option, your own phone number will appear in the click-to-call format. Clicks to this line will be reported, however no in-depth call details are tracked.


Who should be using them?

For the majority of businesses, phone calls yield more conversions than clicks through to a landing page because they cut out the “middle man” and give the caller direct access to the your sales team. Think about it this way: when you push a searcher to your landing page, you have to anticipate their needs and develop a landing page that matches them. Even with a great landing page, we can’t expect the majority of searchers to convert. On the flipside, a phone call allows the advertiser to connect with the searcher on a personal level. Through these conversations, the advertiser can assess the caller’s needs and recommend a solution, all while building a relationship with them. On average, these calls have proven to be three times more valuable than clicks through to landing pages.

Any advertiser who accepts phone calls should take advantage of call extensions, particularly when advertising to mobile devices. Follow these Call Extension instructions to add a clickable phone number to your ad.

Location Extensions

bing ad extensions

What are they?

Location Extensions allow you to include your business address, phone number and a link with directions to your storefront in your ad copy. When the searcher clicks on the link, it will bring them to a Bing Maps page where your address will be automatically populated.

Who should be using them?

If you want to drive searchers to a physical storefront, implementing Location Extensions is an absolute must. Not only do they help boost foot traffic to your stores, they also increase your ad real estate, making it stand out more prominently on the SERP. As a result, Bing reports that ads with these extensions generally produce 7% to 10% higher click-through rates than those without.

Businesses with multiple storefronts can set up a Location Extension for each of their addresses. Bing will take the searchers’ physical location into account and display links for the two stores closest to them.

Image Extensions

bing ad extensions

What are they?

With Image Extensions, you can upload an image to appear alongside your ad copy. You can upload up to six images (per campaign or ad group) to be used and a unique URL can be associated with each image, giving you the option to point searchers to various webpages. For the time being, these extensions only display on desktop and tablet devices. While ads will typically only show one image extension, Bing announced that they will be testing various formats in the coming months and even shared some of the potential options, which include multi-image carousels and combinations with description text alongside pictures.

Who should be using them?

You may be thinking, why bother using Image Extensions when you can use Product Ads instead? Of course, Product Ads are likely to yield better results (as they are hyper-specific to the search criteria), but the Image Extensions will still prove beneficial in cases where Product Ads are not served. They’re especially exciting for service-based businesses, like hotels, spas and restaurants, who are not eligible to show Product Ads. These companies can use Image Extensions to showcase their facilities or highlight their work.

Incorporating imagery in search ads is incredibly impactful. Not only will they make your ads “pop” on the SERP, they can also convey more details about your offering than a standard text ad. In cases where the product or service shown meets the searchers needs, click through rates are likely to increase. However, in instance where the product is not a good fit, the image may actually deter the searcher from clicking, preventing unqualified clicks. Ultimately, image extensions should make a positive impact on your bottom line!

App Extensions

bing ad extensions

What are they?

With App Extensions, you can include a link encouraging searchers to install your app directly within your ad text. When they click on the link, Bing recognizes the device and operating system that they’re using and sends them to the appropriate app store to complete the download.    

Who should be using them?

If your business has an app, chances are you’ve invested a significant amount of time and resources to build it—so you definitely want to ensure people are finding it and using it! App Extensions are one of the best ways to introduce people to your app and encourage them to download it. In fact, according to Think With Google, 1 in 4 app users discovers an app through search. Moreover, since apps are often newer and more sophisticated than most mobile websites, they tend to yield higher conversion rates. The bottom line here is, if you have an app that is performing well, don’t hesitate to promote it with extensions.

Review Extensions (Pilot)

bing ad extensions

What are they?

Review Extensions give you the opportunity to include a third-party endorsement of your business below your ad. The review must be from a reputable source, rather than a personal customer review and must be a reflection of the business as a whole.

Who should be using them?

If you have a slew of happy customers, might as well showcase their positive feedback in your ads! Review extensions are super valuable to newer or smaller businesses whose brands are not widely known. Even if these you have compelling ads, searchers are less likely to engage with them, as they don’t know whether they are a trustworthy company. Including a third party endorsement helps to build this sense of trust. The review is particularly powerful if it comes from a well-known brand or publication.

Callout Extensions (Pilot)

bing ad extensions

What are they?

Callout Extensions allow you to emphasize up to four of your products’ key selling points below the ad. Unlike Sitelinks, these snippets are not clickable links; they solely enable you to add more text to your ad copy.

Who should be using them?

If Bing gave you the option to throw in an extra 100 characters worth of text to your ad, would you take them up on it? Of course! Callout Extensions are likely the closest we’ll ever come to this opportunity. Regardless of your industry, these can work for you; all you need to do is identify your unique selling points, plug them in on the account, campaign or ad group level and voila! While these extensions are brand new to Bing, they’re essentially doppelgangers to AdWords’ callout extensions. So far, we’ve seen higher CTRs for ads with callouts in AdWords and expect similar a similar outcome in Bing.

Choosing your ad extensions

With so many options available, you may be struggling to choose which extensions to implement. According to Paul Apodaca, a principal Product Manager at Microsoft, Bing wants you to use as many extensions as possible, provided they are relevant to your business. He explained that Bing customizes the extensions served based on the context and behavior of that particular searcher.

My advice to you is to utilize every extension that you truly believe will enhance your searchers’ experience with your ads. Once they’ve been running for a while, you can dive into the data to understand which extensions users are engaging with.   

About the author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was recently named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

Keep reading

Automated Rules and earthquakes in #AskBingAds Episode 2

Here’s the second episode of our new #AskBingAds video series!

In this episode, we’ll cover:


And you’ll get a chance to see me do an impression and discuss one of my favorite topics, earthquake safety.

As a reminder, keep asking us product-related questions on Twitter using #AskBingAds and each month we’ll choose several to address in a new episode. If your question is selected, you’ll get one of the fabulous t-shirts you see me wearing. A huge thank you to those that submitted questions, keep them coming!



Keep in mind that if you have an urgent request that requires immediate attention, please contact support. Note that the Bing Ads Blog will be on hiatus from now through next week, but we'll be back for the week leading up to New Year's Eve. Happy holidays, everyone!

Questions? Comments?

Feel free to ping us on Twitter -- don't forget to use the #AskBingAds hashtag for a chance for us to feature your question in a future episode (and send you a free shirt)! For general support questions, you can visit Bing Ads Answers forum. For feature requests, you can submit and vote on your top-priorities at the Bing Ads Feature Suggestion forum, or send us your feedback directly at

Keep reading

Campaign automation for the control freak

With its robust current share of searches in the US market, most larger Bing Ads accounts are going to be tough to fully optimize manually. Agree?

That’s typically where the sales pitches begin. What third-party tools can magically shorten your account management tasks? Well, I’m not here to sell you anything. It’s come to my attention that too few account managers are using the powerful built-in automation methods in PPC platforms. These features are perfect if you’re looking to perform core functions like bid management, but are also a control freak looking to customize the strategy a bit to inject a certain flavor into the proceedings.

Bid management in Bing Ads

Bid management is indeed a core function. The majority of us simply want to maintain our keywords to hit target KPIs – the most obvious example being an ecommerce CPA or ROAS target based on last-click attribution. If you have 20,000+ keywords in an account, you’re never managing all of this by hand.

But maybe you’re also allergic to expensive software and relationships with too many vendors. You wouldn’t be off-base suspecting that much of what you need is right there in the Bing Ads platform... and it isn’t rocket science to use.

It’s a myth that there is a perfect bid level or that frequent bid changes throughout the day are somehow desirable or coherent. Look, this is marketing and advertising, not the high-frequency trading that made hundreds of millions of dollars for clever exchanges, as featured in Flash Boys.

With regard to the budget allocation function of marketing, what you want is to get it very close to right, and to weed out expensive waste; there’s no chance of perfection. Michael Lewis is not following me around for his next book (though I fantasize about that).

Anyway, here's an example of some “fancy automation” that you can execute directly in the Bing Ads interface in less than five minutes. You pick the parameters. You’re in charge:

Step 1: Pick a large campaign in the account, one you suspect may have neglected areas.

Step 2: We’re about to assess keyword bid levels, so click on the “Keywords” tab.

Step 3: Give it a nice long date range. In this case, I went all the way back to February 1. That way, we’re getting enough volume on lower-volume keywords to make some statistically significant decisions. Picking appropriate date ranges is so important; this is where many marketers get it wrong.

Step 4: Click on “Filters.”

bing ads campaign automation

Step 5: Here’s where you create your own secret sauce! In this case, I want a list of low-converting keywords. I could go with a CPA target, but I have a problem with that: a CPA of $0 shows up when the number should be “infinity.” So, normally I’d go with ROAS, but this client was slow to customize the tracking code to pass revenue, so we don’t have accurate numbers yet. See how the analyst has to think and customize sometimes?

So, I’ve put together a rule to filter keywords for low conversions above a certain amount of potential wasted cash ($20), but below $200 (I always assume high-volume keywords are being addressed directly). Finally, for a fun twist, I’ve decided that my main culprits are likely to be broad match types, and sure enough, the rule builder allows you to target only them. Of course, all violating keywords should be addressed, but assume I have good reason for giving the exact and phrase matches a longer leash.

OK, we’re onto Step 6, the exciting answer to the question of just how many of those pesky keywords get caught up in our filter?

Step 6: The answer is 12 keywords. The campaign as a whole has 7,471 keywords. The nice overall CPA numbers on the campaigns in this account are corroborated by the deep dive here. This account is very well managed! As for the 12, it’s not going to take very long at all to give each of those keywords personalized attention. To me, that means bumping bids down.

To be sure, you can always find more “problem areas” if you get more granular. How many offending keywords would I have found if I dropped the “wasted spend threshold” to $14 from $20? In this case, the keyword list rose to 29 from 12. Also manageable, but it’s likely unwise to over-manage keywords garnering too few clicks to be of statistical significance.

Trends vs. Randomness

Here’s another point to ponder: There is inevitably going to be a “worst performer” on any long list, but – like the myth of the ‘hot hand’ in basketball or the ‘streaky hitter’ in baseball – such trends tend to evaporate from one season to the next. If your account contains batches of similar keywords, then some of them are grabbing conversions while other, similar keywords do not (for the time being) – for no reason other than the sheer laws of probability and randomness. Give accounts some room to breathe.

Certainly, the free in-platform tools have their limitations, but make sure you make the most of them before you strike out for more exotic pastures.

That just covers one example of an episode in core bid management. In the future, I hope to cover other segments in accounts that are every bit as hard to keep up with as all those keywords.

If you missed yesterday's post here on the Bing Ads Blog, #BingAdsStories: Page Zero Media hits its target CPA, be sure to check it out.


About the author

Andrew Goodman is Founder and President of Page Zero Media Inc., an agency uncommonly obsessed with PPC performance. Each December, he teeters on the brink of the next airline status tier, forcing unnecessary trips to tan-inducing locales.

Keep reading
Show more posts