Bing Ads’ Unhelpful Information on Disapproved Price Extensions

Microsoft’s search advertising platform Bing Ads recently added a feature that has been available for some time with Google’s AdWords, price extensions. Those allow showing prices for various offering as part of ads. It looks like Microsoft is rolling out access to that over time as they launched last week and they were only available in our account earlier this week. After creating some, we had to wait several days for them to be reviewed. The result of the reviews was that all of them were disapproved. The explanation for those disapprovals was as follows:

The policy those extensions are apparently violating is the vaguely named, Ad Extension Policy Violation. Following the link takes you to a page that currently contains no information on price extensions.

Without any information related to them we have no way of knowing if there is actually some issue that we should be resolving before asking for them to be reviewed again.

The launch announcement did mention a couple of requirements for them, which the price extensions we created are in accordance with:

  • Prices used in Price Extensions must be available and visible on the landing page.
  • Description cannot be duplicated in the header. For example, “Women’s haircut” cannot be used for both the header and the description.

We contacted the Bing Ads’ support and let them know of the missing information, so hopefully that will be resolved before too many people run into this. In the meantime we wanted anyone else running in to this mysterious disapproval to know that they are not alone in that.

It would be an improvement if Microsoft would provide more clear information as to why something is disproved instead of just pointing to a broad category that encompasses a number of different issues.

Yahoo and Microsoft Receive Regulatory Clearance for Search Pact

Yahoo and Microsoft announced today that they had received regulatory clearance from US and European regulators. Under the pact Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power Yahoo Search and Microsoft’s AdCenter search advertising service will provide search ads to Yahoo Search. The companies had announced the pact in late July and reached a finalized agreement in December. The companies have set a goal of serving results from Bing in Yahoo Search in “at least the United States by the end of 2010”. The transition to serving ads from Microsoft’s advertising service in Yahoo Search is planned to occur “prior to the 2010 holiday season, but may wait until 2011 if they determine that the transition will be more effective after the holiday season”. They expect a full transition by early 2012. According to the companies, Yahoo will build its own “search experience” on top of Bing’s search results by “integrating rich Yahoo! content, enhanced listings with conveniently organized information about key topics, and tools to tailor the experience for Yahoo! users”

Online Advertising Dropped 5 Percent in First Quarter

Online advertising revenue was 5.5 Billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter, a decrease of 5 percent over the same period last year, according to a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. This is the first time since 2002 that there has been a year over year decrease in revenue. First quarter revenue was 11 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2008.

Google Adds Features and Introduces Ads to Google Suggest

Google has added features and tweaked its search suggestion tool Google Suggest. The tool, which was introduced last August, suggests search queries in a box below the search box as searcher begins typing in text. The tool was previously only available when making searches from the home page and has now been added to results page. On the results page, the few suggestion show relate to the current search query. For searchers that are logged into a Google account and have Web History enabled, Google may show some relevant past queries.

Google has also added and removed information that is shown in the suggestions box. To help the searcher scan the list the portion of suggested queries that searcher has not typed into the search box will be in bold text. If Google thinks that a searcher is looking to navigate directly to a website a link to that website will shown in the suggestion box. Google will also begin to show AdWords text ads in the suggestion box when they “detect that the most relevant completion for what you’re typing is an ad”. The ad will be shown at the bottom of the suggestion box in a colored box and identified as a “Sponsored Link”. Finally, Google will no longer include the result count for the suggestion listed in the suggestion box.

Microsoft Updates adCenter Tools, Content Ads Service Comes Out of Beta

Microsoft has released a number of updates to tools for their adCenter online advertising service and taken the Content Ads service out of beta in the United States. Some of the biggest changes occurred in adCenter’s campaign management tools. Customer targeting and incremental bidding can now be set campaign wide and default bids can now be set for ad groups. Microsoft also made updates to it account management tools and the adCenter Desktop (Beta) software.

The Content Ads service, which has been available to some advertisers since its beta release in 2006, places text ads on content websites in the same way Google’s AdWords service provides the option to show ads on the it’s Content Network. Currently the service only displays ads on small number of partner websites, including WSJ.com, RunnersWorld.com, and across the Microsoft network. Google’s Content Network reaches a broader set of websites but also include lower quality websites.

Google To Allow Trademarks in AdWords Ads

Google has announced that they are changing their policy on the use of trademarks in the text of AdWords ads in the U.S. Currently Google will show advertisements for words and phrases trademarked by other entities, but does not allow ads to use those trademarks in the text of ads. Beginning on June 15 the restriction of using trademarks in ad text will be removed as long as the ads meet certain criteria in both the Search and Content Networks. Those criteria require that the ads use the trademark in a “descriptive or generic way” or if the ads use the trademark in nominative way the advertiser must resell the trademarked good or service, sell “components, replacement parts or compatible products corresponding to a trademark”, or be an informational website. The new policy is comparable with the policies of Yahoo and Microsoft advertisings programs.

The change comes as Google faces continued legal challenges over the display of ads on searches for trademark words and phrases. The New York Times reports that a class-action lawsuit has been filed in Texas that challenges the policy. Legal experts told the New York Times that this was the first class-action lawsuit against Google over the policy. Another case, filed in 2005, related to the policy was recently reinstated by federal appeals court, reversing a decision by a district court. Google has previously reached settlements with a number of Companies, including American Airlines and Geico, over the policy.

Click Fraud Rate Dropped Significantly in First Quarter

Click Forensics today reported that the overall industry average click fraud rate for pay per click (PPC) advertising was 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009, down from 17.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 16.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008. The lowest rate in the past four quarters was 16 percent, in the third quarter of 2009. The president of Click Forensics, Tom Cuthbert, said that the drop in click fraud appears to be due to “the drop in keyword Cost Per Clicks (CPCs) and the progress Yahoo! and Google made blocking click fraud from botnet sources”. Click Forensics reported seeing an increase in click fraud from malicious JavaScript programs in the first quarter, with ad networks being especially vulnerable to attacks. Click Forensics gathers it’s data from online advertising campaigns for both large and small companies from both major search providers and over 300 ad networks.

Yahoo Increases Share of US Search-Ad Revenue in Q1

Yahoo increased it share of US search-ad revenue to 19.3 in the first quarter of 2009, up 1 percent from the year ago period, according to search marketing firm Efficient Frontier. From the year ago period, Google dropped .9 percent to 72.3 percent and Microsoft dropped 1 percent to 3.5 percent. Google had a click-through rate (CTR) of 2.38 and cost per click (CPC) of 54 cents in the first quarter of 2009, Yahoo CTR of 1.16 and CPC of 42 cents, and Microsoft CTR of 2.19 and CPC of 52 cents. The data is based a subset of Efficient Frontier clients and is comprised of over 84 billion impressions and 785 million clicks.

Online Advertising Grew 2.6 Percent in Fourth Quarter

Online advertising revenue reached 6.1 Billion U.S. dollars in the fourth quarter, an increase of 2.6 percent over the same period last year, according to a report (pdf) by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Fourth quarter revenue was 4.5 percent higher than the third quarter of 2008. Revenue for 2008 reached 23.4 Billion U.S. dollars, an increase of  10.6 percent over 2007. Search advertising revenue show the largest increase of any format, an increase 20 percent to 10.5 billion dollars in 2008. Display advertising revenue, which includes display banner ads, rich media, digital video, and sponsorship, increased nearly 8 percent to 7.6 billion dollars. Classifieds revenue decreased 4 percent to 3.2 billion dollars, referrals/lead generation revenue increased 6 percent to 1.7 billion dollars, and e-mail revenue decreased 4.5 percent to .4 billion dollars. Performance based advertising accounted for 57 percent of revenue, with cost per thousand (CPM) accounting for 39 percent and hybrids accounting for 4 percent.

Google Brings Behavioral Targeting to Content Network

Google today announced the launch of behavioral target advertising on the Google content network. The advertising, that Google calls “interest-based”, will show ads based on categories of interest of the user determined by the “types of sites you visit and the pages you view.” Google says that a limited number of advertisers will be offered the chance to use “interest-based” advertising as part of a beta, and that the offering will be expanded later in 2009.

To deal with privacy concerns Google touts the fact that most ads it provides include a label that includes links to “get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads”. Google has created a tool called the Ads Preferences Manager that allows users to view, delete, or add interest categories associated with the advertising cookie in their web browsers. They also allow users the option to opt-out of the advertising cookie and have provide a plug-in to insure that the opt-out cookie is no deleted when a user clears out the cookies in their web browser.