Ad Quality Year in Review 2015

Online advertising plays a big role in keeping many online services low cost or free of charge. This is a win for both users and website owners, however, it can also attract questionable actors, who are constantly looking for ways to push their low quality or even dangerous content to unsuspecting users, convincing them to take action they may not have intended. In really malicious cases, bad ads may cause users to lose personal information, or infect their devices. Protection is needed to ensure bad ads are weeded out and remaining ads are safe, useful and relevant.

At Bing Ads, we take the safety and security of our search users very seriously. We start with an extensive team of domain experts who are up-to-date with latest attack patterns, as well as an operations team that is constantly refining policy enforcement to keep the ecosystem clean from new threats and compliant with laws in 40+ countries and multiple languages. In addition, we incorporate escalations from users and advertisers into policy enforcement improvements. Coupled with an extensive backend infrastructure, we work 24/7 to ensure ads that are shown are policy compliant and safe for our users. Each and every ad entering the system is scanned using automation powered by machine learning and then manually reviewed when necessary to ensure correct policy decisions.

Ad Quality Ecosystem

Attack Patterns

In 2015, we rejected hundreds of millions of ads, and identified thousands of sites pushed by bad actors for being in direct violation of our policies. Bad actors often engage in misleading behaviors with the intent to mislead and potentially damage our users. Some of the models we detected include:

  • Unrealistic weight loss claims and dieting schemes
  • Quick money making schemes and work from home jobs
  • Questionable deals on luxury items like designer purses

We initiated stricter checks on advertising that offers toll free numbers to fix computer problems – many users searching for computer solutions are not tech savvy which makes them extra susceptible to misleading and dangerous ads. There have even been times our machine learning algorithms have flagged accounts that look innocent at first glance – e.g. a dealer specializing in kids’ furniture – but on close examination we find malicious intent. The backend machinery runs 24/7 and uses hundreds of attributes to look for patterns which help spot suspicious ads among billions of genuine ones.

In addition, we’ve improved our handling of dead links which helps both our users and advertisers. In some cases, advertisers may violate our policies unintentionally, and we’ve improved messaging on steps they need to take to bring individual ads back into compliance.

Looking Back

Below is a summary of our enforcement actions in 2015.

Ad Quality Lookback

Safety First

Digital domain moves at the speed of thought. As we fight current threats, new and more sophisticated ones continue to emerge. We are continuously updating our policies, threat models, and Machine Learning based detection mechanisms in order to fight bad ads faster and with better accuracy. User experience on Bing is critical for our platform, and we are determined to ensure search ads on Bing are useful and safe.

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Six Moves to Put Your Automotive Campaigns in the Driver’s Seat

With Q1 on the books, it’s the perfect time to look at your numbers and see how you’re fairing in the online marketplace for 2016. Could you do better with your digital spend? Perhaps. Can Bing Ads help you maximize the quality and boost the quantity of car buyers to your site? Yes!

While you’ve been doing what you do best – selling – we on the Bing Ads team have been doing what we do best – monitoring search trends and adding new features (like Image extensions) to our ad platform to help auto manufacturers, dealerships and agencies get more clicks and conversions.

2016 suggests continued growth in the car-buying market. A strong consumer confidence index, low interest rates and a much-needed break in gas prices are all fueling a projected increase in auto sales of $3.4 billion over 2015.[1] How much you grab depends, in part, on how skillfully you spend your online marketing dollars. Luckily, we spent half of last year studying the behavior of online auto shoppers.

Below are six tips to get you on the road to some quick wins. They are designed to help you create, target, implement and measure the most effective ads to lift conversions.

1. Target auto shoppers early in and throughout their journey

We followed 3,000 users on their automotive Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) and captured the details in Bing Ad’s 2016 Automotive Insights presentation. We found that the average consumer journey lasted 96.3 days, with visits to automotive websites every 4.3 days.[2]

During that time, consumers considered 9.8 makes and 11.4 models on average. When they first start looking for a new vehicle, consumers throw a wide net which narrows as they get closer to purchase. Make sure your makes and models are part of the early consideration set. With 20% of automotive related page views on search engines and with visits to search engines taking place throughout the CDJ, paid search campaigns are a sure fire way to reach car shoppers.

Use Universal Event Tracking (UET) and Remarketing in Paid Search to target shoppers throughout that 3-month journey. Place one UET tag across your website and track what your customers are doing after they click on your ad. When used in conjunction with remarketing lists, you get a second chance with to turn website visitors into customers by showing them tailored ads based on their previous actions.

2. Budget appropriately for your auto campaigns

In looking at search volume over the year, we found fairly steady volume throughout the year with a few spikes over the summer and around the holidays.[3] Make your biggest investment in your year-round, ongoing campaigns, while having some flexibility to adjust to summer travel and winter new model spikes.

To streamline campaign management, set up Automated Rules to schedule and automate your campaign management operations. Use these rules to enable and pause ads, ad groups and campaigns, to adjust keyword and ad group bids, or to change a campaign’s budget automatically based on the criteria you select. You can also use the Notify Me rules to proactively monitor your budgets and performance for a specific timeframe or throughout the year.

3. Focus on your local market

Automotive searchers want to know what dealerships and inventory are available in their local market. Bing Ads found that searches for online marketplaces (such as “cars com” and “craigslist cars”) account for half of automotive related search volume.3 If you’re a dealership, you can take advantage of online marketplace related searches’ high volume and low cost-per-click (CPC) by focusing on keywords for your own dealership and for local pages of popular online marketplaces.

 

To help drive foot traffic into your local dealership, use Call extensions and Location extensions, which can lift click-through rate (CTR) by up to 10% and 20%, respectively. Call extensions, like click-to-call, help customers quickly call and connect to your business. Location extensions, like store locator and click-to-direction, help customers quickly find your business. And don’t forget to layer in location targeting to ensure optimal customer experience and the most relevant leads.

4. Show off your inventory with image extensions

In our CDJ study, we found that 4 in 10 automotive related searches are for images.2 Furthermore, 45% of consumers viewed more than 36.7 car images on a search engine. Leverage this tendency and add more visual appeal to your ad with Image extensions. Adding images of your latest models to your ad can help grab searchers’ attention and increase clicks.

 

5. Grow your business, grow yourself

To make the most of your campaigns, take advantage of more offerings from our platform to connect with more customers and get better return on investment. They’ll help you stand out from the competition.

·    To direct customers to specific pages on your website, check out Sitelink and Enhanced Sitelink extensions. These extra links let you promote specific products, services or sections of your site, and they lead searchers to the information they need to learn more and take action. They can boost CTR by up to 13% over standard text ads.

·    To reach specific demographics, use Demographic targeting. Over the past year, Bing Ads has improved our demographic targeting with increased age and gender coverage to help you improve the chance of your ads showing to the demographic groups you want.

·    To free up some time to sell some cars, let our expert Bing Ads coaches help you plan, create and improve your ads. They can help your set up your account, import your ads from current Google AdWords account, and more. They can also help you get familiar with the tools, events and resources that will help you successfully manage your PPC campaigns. Did we mention this is free? No cost, no commitment. Just an easy way to help you get up and running with Bing Ads.

6. Reach quality Bing Network audience

To make the most of your automotive campaigns, get to know the Bing Network audience. Numbers show that about 22 million searchers used the Bing Network – including 17 million unique searchers not reached on Google – for 87 million automotive related searches, and accounted for 41% of all automotive paid clicks[4]. Compared to Google, the Bing Network audience is more likely to have bought a new vehicle offline in the last 6 months, and to plan to buy a convertible/sports car in the next 6 months.[5] For more insights on our audience, visit our Audience Insights page.

 

Armed with this new knowledge and with Q2 underway, now might be the best time to sign in to Bing Ads and see how your current campaigns are working for your business.

Let Bing Ads help you put your online campaigns into overdrive! Check out more search trends and automotive insights in our infographic below and in our Automotive Insights presentation.

For more seasonal and vertical insights, check out the Bing Ads Insights Portal.

 

 



[1] IBISWorld, IBISWorld Industry Report 33611a: Car & Automobile Manufacturing in the U.S., September 2015;
IBISWorld, IBISWorld Industry Report 33611b: SUV & Light Truck Manufacturing in the U.S., January 2015.

[2] Microsoft internal analytics data. Sample: 3,000 users on an Automotive Consumer Decision Journey, with at least 50 page views on automotive related domains. PC traffic only. Timeframe: 1/1/2015 to 6/30/2015.

[3] Microsoft internal query analytics data. Timeframe: 10/1/2014–09/30/2015.

[4] comScore qSearch (custom), US, June 2015; industry categories based on comScore classifications.

[5] comScore Plan Metrix, US, June 2015, custom measure created using comScore indices and duplication. June data was used to reflect the month prior to the beginning of the automotive season.

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Make the Grade in Back to School Sales

Books closed. Pencils down. Laptops packed. School’s out for summer. While summer camp or a vacation may be top of mind for customers, shopping for back-to-school is right there too. 63% of consumers start shopping as early as June, so get your ad plans ready to go early and plan through September.

 

 

 

Here are a few key insights.

In 2015, 37% of back-to-school spending was on K-12 students with apparel being the most purchased – some 50% of total sales. 63% was spent on those heading for their freshman year or back to complete their undergrad.

12% more customers spent $500 or more on kids clothing in the last six months with Bing Network searches vs Google.

TIP: Include keywords like back-to-school and back-to-college in your ads.

 

While 91% of people are still heading in store, 60% are browsing, comparing or shopping online.

Tip: Adding a call or location extension can increase click-through’s 3 – 10%. http://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/ad-extensions

 

Make the grade in mobile commerce.
• 37% of shoppers will use their smartphone for back-to-school supplies.
• That’s a 15% increase over last year and
• 12% will use their tablet.

For more digital insights on trends to ad words that work, go to the complete Back-to-School presentation here and head to the top of the class in your back-to-school sales.

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Bing Ads is now accepting .pharmacy top-level domains

As of April 13, 2016 in the United States and Canada, Bing Ads is now accepting .pharmacy top-level domains as proof of accreditation from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) for online pharmacies and prescription-only medications. Bing Ads requires that all pharmaceutical advertiser in the United States or Canada, are accredited by the NABP. This new .pharmacy program, as well as previously accepted forms of accreditation will continue to be accepted under the Bing Ads Pharmacy and health care products and services policies.

 

Benefit to our users and advertisers

Microsoft is directly engaged with the NABP to ensure that these advertising requirements and accreditation programs help provide a safe environment for our users, as well as a positive experience for you as an advertiser. This top-level domain is not available through domain resellers and is not transferrable; only companies that have been fully vetted by the NABP are granted a .pharmacy domain.  This safe guard can help users quickly identify that they are on an accredited website just by looking at the URL.

To learn about additional program requirements, or to apply for a .pharmacy domain, please visit the program website, www.safe.pharmacy.

 

Questions? Comments?

As always, feel free to ping us on Twitter, or you can email us directly at bingads-feedback@microsoft.com.

 

Thank you,

Melissa

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