Microsoft Advertising’s Dynamic Search Ads Fail to Deliver on Claim of Reaching Relevant Searches

Yesterday, we wrote about Microsoft poorly auto-generating ad copy for customers of their search advertising system. While it appears they haven’t done basic testing, as many of the ads generated for us are incoherent, among other issues, they have started auto-apply these ads. That is part of a larger initiative by Microsoft to automate the advertising process, where even what seems like it should be a lot easier to handle than generating ad copy, isn’t even close to being where it should be before being widely available.

Another piece of that involves dynamic search ads. Microsoft describes those with the following:

Dynamic search ads provide a streamlined, low-touch way to make sure customers searching on the Microsoft Search Network find your products or services.

In marketing these, Microsoft also claims they allow you to “[a]utomatically target relevant search queries based on the content of your website” and that they “can help you find customers searching for precisely what you offer”. At least in our case, based on the ten “search queries that could trigger your ad” they show right now, that isn’t true at all.

Four of the queries shown are hosting related, despite us not being in the hosting business:

  • wordpress vimeo hosting sixt
  • web hosting wordpress plans
  • best wordpress hosting sites
  • wordpress hosting

With one of those, “wordpress vimeo hosting sixt”, we couldn’t find what that would refer to.

Another could probably be classified similarly:

  • wordpress com

Another is website builder related, despite us also not being in the website builder business:

  • best website builder

Three queries involve software that we provide services for, but someone searching for just the name is not “searching for precisely what you offer”:

  • wordpress
  • magento
  • woocommerce

Since the services we offer involve things for people already using the software, it seems unlikely someone searching just on the name of it would be looking for that.

Finally, there is a query that doesn’t seem like it would be related to something for sale:

  • wordpress login

Overall, it looks like they have combined, for the most part, common searches that are very loosely related to what we offer. Having us advertise on those things seems like it makes sense for Microsoft, since they can make more money that way, but not for us, since it would target searches that have nothing to do with our business.

The saving grace with these two automated features is that they can be disabled, that isn’t true of other parts of the search advertising that overrule what advertisers want.

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