Bing Ads Clamping Down on Affiliates?

Bing Ads Came Down on me like a ton of bricks!

I write this post as a kind of warning, or heads-up to any other affiliate marketer who is contemplating PPC or, indeed, is already doing it with Bing Ads.

Now, I look upon myself as a pretty fair Affiliate Marketer. I play by the rules and my reviews are thoroughly reviewed before setting it all down on paper, so to speak. I won’t promote a product that is BS…I just won’t.

Other Affiliate marketers promote by carpet bombing the search engines with reviews that are, shall we say, a little thin on morals? I just can’t do that. If I see at a product that pays out $50 a sale but the product itself is clearly a scam, or not worthy, I don’t touch it.

Others would, but not me…and I’ll tell you why.

1 – It’s against my principles and…
2 – If I didn’t have those principles, I wouldn’t get away with it anyway…so why bother?

Bing Ads vs Affiliate Marketers

The search engines dislike us little affiliate marketers with a passion, and that’s maybe because there is a wealth of websites out there that are pure sales pages offering no value whatsoever.

But, I get it…most budding affiliates are taught this way and therefore there are millions of pages of just pure crap. They are told to put up thin websites with a couple of  ‘in your face‘ sales pages (and yes, I’ve been guilty of that in the past) and then sit back and make a steady and passive income. Easy.

It used to work pretty well, and still does if you hit the right niche, but the search engines absolutely hate them and they go out of their way to mute these websites from their search pages. It’s almost impossible to get an affiliate website ranked these days, especially if it only has a few pages and offers no value.

Why I Use Bing Ads

I use PPC to promote my reviews with Bing Ads, it saves all the SEO, Social interaction and building the dreaded backlinks. It saves time and you can, with the right bidding and subject, get onto the 1st page for your keyword. What’s not to like? It seems logical to me.

I have been working with Bing Ads for 10 months now and had great results and I’ve almost always played by the rules. Sure, in the beginning, I learned what I was not allowed to with Bing Ads such as use pop-ups, exits pop-ups, straight to video pages and all that malarkey. So through experience I found the perfect way to promote on Bing Ads. Or so I thought until last Sunday.

As an affiliate marketer, I would write a thorough review of a product which I had researched and written for the viewer, answered questions about the product and given a final honest appraisal. I would drill down and use the best keywords and then compile a good, compelling Bing Ad and then link it to my review.

Since April of last year (2015) I’ve been managing CTR’s of over 7%  for my campaigns, which is well above the average of 2%. This way of affiliate marketing worked.

bingads2

The reviews, almost always, make it onto page one by themselves, but it takes such a long time and it’s not always guaranteed. Relying on shares and organic backlinks takes time. That’s why I use PPC…my reviews are instantly on Page One.

In the September alone I made just short of $5K on a Clickbank product which was one of the rare products that actually gives value to the buyer.

What Went Wrong?

It was all going swell on Sunday the 21st of June, all my campaigns in the Bing Ads centre suddenly stopped showing with all the data showing no impressions or clicks on any of my campaigns and ads.

Immediately, I got onto the Bing Ads live chat and was answered straight away. One thing I will say about Bing Ads is that their support is second to none. I will keep the support workers name out of this for personal reasons.

I told him that none of my ads were showing and the stats were also showing zero. He asked the usual questions about going through the quality issues of my ads and after a while, and him taking a look at my account, he agreed that the ‘live’ ads were perfectly within the Bing Ads terms. He told me he would send a manual review request as soon as possible.

He replied within 24 hours with the results.

“I am emailing about the Editorial review that we have sent to check why your
ads are currently not delivering. I just received a response from the team and I
have enlisted here some changes that needs to be made to make sure the ads
are compliant with our Editorial guidelines:

•         The display URL does not match and is unrelated to the destination URL
that resolves when a user goes to the landing page.  Please review the display
URL and landing page URL, and correct any instance of this mismatch. Since
the display URL will tell people where they are going when they click the ad, we
recommend that the display URL and the destination URL are on the same
domain. It would also help to be more specific on the product that you are
trying to advertise and what the user will get when they click on your ads. You
can find more details on this link – URLs and landing page guidelines.

•         Here is a sample listing from the site review:
Ad copy – (THIS WAS MY AD TEXT)-  www.PRODUCT.com.
It’s not recommended to use the keyword insertion for this instance as the display URL does not match the destination URL. Please review all your campaigns that uses keyword insertion and revise them.

•         There is also a popup on the landing page for your campaign
PRODUCT”. Please remove any pop-ups that prevents the user from
leaving the website. I have attached a screenshot with this email for your
reference.

I hope you find this information to be useful. I want to thank you for your
patience as we worked on your account.

Ah, I had made a little mistake…but surely it’s a learning curve and my account shouldn’t have been put on hold for these 3 problems? They were also all paused campaigns which I had forgotten to delete and weren’t even showing live?

What Does this All Mean?

Number one:
I was always under the impression that you could put anything related to what you’re promoting in here (the Display URL)…there are plenty of people out there teaching this, but they are wrong. You have to put your landing page URL here with an extension (if you wanted to) that matches the destination URL…so,

Say if you were promoting ‘Tinnitus Miracle‘ from the Clickbank network. (BTW, I don’t promote this…it’s not been proven enough to work for me) You’ve written your review and are ready to promote it.

bingads3

In the display URL of the Ad, you would have to use www.YOURWEBSITE.com/TinnitusMiracle (or a term associated with Tinnitus) or even put the {keyword} extension in there, although this might go against BingAds Terms…it’s not completely clear

And not…

www.TinnitusMiracle.com or www.TinnitusReview.com because they do not match your Destination URL.

Plenty of other affiliate marketers are doing this and, for the time being, getting away with it. But I have been told by the Bing support chap that this is totally wrong and those Ads will be stopped if anyone is found doing it.

That’s a strange comment because I can pull up hundreds of Ads on Bing that are doing just that. Maybe I’ve been singled out?

Number 2
I cannot use the {keyword} extension as my Destination URL. Fair enough I suppose. This means that I can’t do www.{keyword}.com where the placement {keyword} uses a keyword from my list if anyone types that in the search engine.

So if the searcher typed in “Tinnitus Miracle” or “Does Tinnitus Miracle Work” they would see my Ad www.Tinnitus Miracle.com or www.Does Tinnitus Miracle Work.com (notice the spaces)

I can see where they’re coming from here, but again, I see plenty of people teaching this and saying it’s a ninja trick. It ain’t.

bing4

and Number 3
A Pop-up. Yes, I hold my hands up to this one, and although it was on a paused campaign, and I meant to delete it months ago, they still found it. This was one ad out of around 200 that are live and paused in all my campaigns, so I think they were a little hard on me there. I make sure, and have done so for months, that there are no pop-ups in my reviews or links.

And don’t even think about direct linking to the vendors product page anymore! I was told this is a serious no-no as the landing page (destination URL) needs to match the display URL, unless your very sneaky and use the official URL in your display URL box and then match it to your Destination URL, but that’s nigh on impossible without just sending them to the official website.

You may be able to get around this, but be aware Bing will only show one Ad with the same URL on the first page. You will have to bid higher to get there and if there are many affiliates using the same URL then you could be in for a bidding war.

So, I corrected all the points made by Bing Ads to get my ads up and running again. I reckon I’ve lost around $500+ so far in the 3 days my ads have been down. I’m still waiting for the Ads to be re-reviewed at this time.

What Really Grinds My Gears About Bing Ads

1 – Why didn’t Bing Ads send me a heads up, or warning, that those ads were against their terms instead of shutting down all my campaigns that were totally within their terms of service without any warning whatsoever? There is a steep learning curve when doing PPC and surely a little leeway would have been in order here.

Yes, I should have thoroughly read through ALL the Bing Ads guidelines, but I saw many Ads use PPC this way and thought it was standard practice. As I said, it is an ongoing learning curve.

2 – I’m all for fair play and when I see hundreds of ads flouting the Bing Ads terms, and getting away with it, it drives me mad. I see my little campaigns getting slaughtered, whilst others are allowed to play on. It doesn’t sit right with me.

I mean, I’m not a big spender here, around $400 a month at best. Perhaps that’s the reason…I don’t spend enough?

Also, since this editorial review is still in motion (I will update when it’s back on track…if that ever happens) I’ve noticed the quality score of my campaigns is now down to 2/10 and even 1/10! What’s going on here?? I’ve always been proud of my quality score and they often hit 10/10 and average 8/10?

bing5(The above image shows zero stats because my account is on hold at the moment)

I take time on my reviews and for them to tell me my quality score is 1/10, it’s a kick in the teeth and a proper insult.

This is where a little paranoia sets in. Are Bing Ads out to get me? I’ve made thousands of dollars since starting with Bing Ads, but now it seems they’re on my case, finding any excuse to scupper my ‘very eligible’ ads? It’s a bit beyond me?

I can only think that it’s because I’m an affiliate marketer. Google Ads has already seen off affiliates from the Adwords network…although they’re the biggest affiliate of all!

Is Bing Ads Turning Into Google Adwords?

Is Bing Ads going the same way as the big G AdWords? There was a time when Bing Ads were supportive of affiliates, but now it seems they’ve made their money from us and now it’s time to take out the trash. Affiliate marketers have an unsavoury reputation with the big PPC networks, and I almost feel like I’m a ‘dirty word’ in their eyes. Perhaps I am and Affiliate Marketers are a dying breed that they want to get rid of?

Hey, I’m no snob, but when I put a weeks worth of work into a review and then get tarred with the same brush as those one page wonders…it pisses me off.

It might sound like sour grapes and that I’m throwing my dummy out of the pram….and you’d be right! Let’s have some consistency here.

I can always go to others PPC networks, but it’ll be a wrench to go from such a high quality network such as Bing Ads.

Google Ads booted us affiliate marketers out years ago, and now Bing may be doing the same.

Have you experienced the same? Or perhaps you’re still using Bing Ads for direct linking or using pop-ups etc. and getting away with it? Or you may just have a question that I may be able to answer….let me know below.

Quick Update 6th July 2015:

I was told to get rid of all terms unrelated to the landing page at the end of my display url in the ads? So that meant, if I was promoting Tinnitus Miracle, my display url MUST be my landing page (www.MYWEBSITE.COM) and/or (www.MYWEBSITE.COM/TINNITUS) and not (www.MYWEBSITE.COM/EAR-RINGING) …which is pretty odd because that term is related to tinnitus? I ran this past the Bing Ads support and they said although Ear Ringing was kind of related to Tinnitus, it wasn’t the actual product I was promoting.

Now, this all means that they are talking out of their arse.

I asked if they were being overly sensitive of my ads because I was an affiliate? (Google hates affiliates, are Bing following suit) “No“, they said, “not at all, we want to help you“. This can’t be true however because I see none affiliates using the same tactics as I once did in their ads and nothing has been done.

Is it because I was getting AdGroup CTR’s of up to 15% for keywords costing me as little as 1p and at most, 15p? “No“, they said….”your CTR and Click costs are impressive“. Yeah, right!

I feel they are keeping an eye on my account because they’re not making enough from me. I may be little fish, but if hundreds of affiliates were paying 1p for clicks, Bing wouldn’t survive much longer. My guess is that they want to get rid of affiliates soon and have started clamping down on us.

Oh, well….move onwards.

Update 2016:

I’m still using BingAds as I think they offer the best value and best support. It’s easy to use and easy on the eye. OK, I have to be careful to not make a mistake, but it keeps me focused…one false move and I’m sure they’ll jump on me again.

I will (when I get the time) go through a campaign from start to finish including keyword research and niche. If it helps just one person to make sense of BingAds, I’ll be happy.

10 thoughts on “Bing Ads Clamping Down on Affiliates?”

  1. Hey man, loved the article.

    Just wondering how Bing ads are working for affiliate offers right now at the moment? I’ve had a few affiliate sites sitting there for years that make me a modest amount of income via organic traffic. I’ve always hated SEO as it’s laborious, inprecise and just generally a pain in the arse. I’ve always assumed that there was no way to do PPC for affiliate offers but I found out recently that you can with Bing it’s been a game changer. How are things looking now? Tim

    Reply
    • Hi Tim,

      Bing is a fickle beast (it is with me, anyway!) and it’s a case of ‘if your face fits’. I’ve seen countless affiliates direct linking to pages with pop-ups and autoplay videos, which is totally against the Bing rules, but they seem to get away with it. Some ads have been up for years. I now only link to my own review sites, but Bing isn’t as profitable as it used to be. The competition for KW’s can be crazy!

      I know what you mean about SEO marketing, but when done well it can be a much better earner than paying for ads. Yes, it’s a long-winded affair, but once you get a little traction with your content KW’s a page can stay at the top of the SE’s for a very long time…even without many links.

      I still use Bing Ads, but not as much as I used to. I find Bing support has wavered over the last year or so and it may only be a matter of time before affiliate websites will be monitored severely or just plain banned…just like Adwords.

      Reply
  2. Enjoyed your information – hopefully you are back up and with no issues. Just curious, if you have any experience with Bing’s search partner network? If so, how have you found the traffic quality?

    Reply
    • Hey Doug, thanks for popping by! Yes, I’m back in with Bing Ads with only some tiny issues. Bing Ads have been changing the way campaigns are set up and I’m still testing the new system out. As for the partner networks, I’ve used all three options with the ad distribution option and I’ve not really seen much difference with click-throughs with any of them.

      What my tracker does tell though is that devices such as mobile/cell phones and tablets are clicking though more than the good old desktop. I knew this was the case some time ago, but it’s remarkable just how fast this has happened. I’d say it’s 60/40 in favour of the devices at the moment.

      I’ve also noticed how much more competitive it is to get a page one Ad up. Everybody seems to be using Bing Ads these days with Ads for popular products covering the whole search page above the fold. If an affiliate marketer wants to use Bing to promote a Clickbank product, say, the 3 Week Diet, then I guess their bids for good keywords would have to be well over $2 to get anywhere near page one…And their landing page had better be stellar!

      I’ve also noticed that a number of ads promoting that 3 Week Diet have exit pop-ups & automatic VSP’s, along with Ad copy using words like scam, cure & Buy Now. I’m still scratching my head with how they get away with it. I couldn’t even get away with the word ‘medical’ the other day? Go figure?

      I’ll keep testing Bing Ad though…it still brings in a fair ROI…but my ideal is to make that ROI outstanding!

      Reply
  3. I figured I would add some info.

    First off very nice campaign. I run around a 5% CTR so nice to see someone hit 7%, well done.

    However, the most surprising statistic of all this honestly was your CPC. I have no idea how you average 0.06-0.07 cents per click. I am sure we are in vastly different niches/markets, but the lowest average I have seen before this on Bing was in the teens and for me it depends on my campaign obviously, but lowest has been in the .20 cents range, which again for my websites in their respective niches are fine. Regardless, I have never seen that.

    Either way, that was the most impressive statistic, and I am glad you got things sorted out with Bing. I do hope for an update you are still using them successfully. I honestly see more and more PPC users switching networks from FB and Adwords to Bing because of how much better their platform is. Thanks for the blog post.

    Hope you are doing well!

    Reply
    • Hi James,

      That 0.06-0.07 CPC was for a new product on the market and I managed to capture just the right keywords at that moment. Quite rare, but absolutely possible. Also be aware that my statistics are in pennies not cents, so that would average out at between 0.09-0.10 cents.

      I can usually hit an average of between 0.10-0.20 pence a click in almost any market/niche and I believe it’s all down to the targeted keywords. I can spend two days on getting just the right keywords that hit the sweet spot, although it does take a fair bit of testing. Some campaigns just don’t work at all and not every campaign is a winner.

      I’ve found BingAds to be getting better almost daily for PPC, but along with that comes restrictions. I don’t direct link to offers and prefer a landing page or website with all of those targeted keywords scattered throughout the page(s) in a non obtrusive way. I also make sure I have the usual Privacy Policy, Disclaimer, ToS, ‘Contact’ and ‘About Me’ pages attached to the landing page/website. I find this adds weight to the quality score.

      Of course this means nothing if my niche/keywords are not hot at the time.

      As for CTR, I’ve seen some of my campaigns hit 15% and others hit lower than 1%…it’s all a matter of testing and killing a campaign if it’s not proving profitable, moving on and going at it again from another angle.

      As for Facebook Ads, I dislike them with a passion! It’s a great way to target people/genres/areas, but to me, it’s too expensive and I’ve been burnt a couple of times. Same with Adwords…too expensive and too fussy. I fully expect BingAds to go the same way eventually, but for now I find it the most user friendly and essentially cheaper platform. Also I find their support top notch.

      I believe a lot of success from BingAds can be attributed to Microsoft setting their default search engine to BingSearch on all new PC’s…thanks Microsoft!

      Lastly, thanks for asking if I’m doing well. Yes, I’m doing fine although I’ve not been working half as hard as I should be. I’ve caught the hiking bug again and spend more time outside than in!

      Thanks for popping by and good luck with all your endeavours.

      Reply
  4. If you think you’re accounts been dinged, just open up a new account.

    You can have multiple accounts under one email.

    I do this to separate out different marketing strategies. Especially ones that might get dinged like promoting clickbank offers vs promoting more traditional products from networks like shareasale.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the idea…I wasn’t 100% certain the ‘dinging’ would encroach onto other Bing accounts under the same email. I got a little paranoid! I’ll try out some new campaigns now that you’ve clarified new Bing accounts are not tarred with the same brush as dinged accounts. Cheers!

      Reply
  5. I almost never comment on articles (though that may change because I’m learning IM), but this really sucks. Don’t be shocked if they (or some individual there, whose actions others felt they had to support) had it out for you both because you ARE smarter than the average bear (quality of your reviews, lower ad spend, out of 9 to 5 or closer to it than they are). Or maybe the name of your blog would be a lightning rod for certain people. Let’s face it, there are serious power-trippers with self-esteem issues out there … and they tend to have low morals.

    I saw a youtube series (Part 1 is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvsZKR82MQA) about this site called BuzzCity.com They specialize in mobile, which gives a higher click-through rate anyway, and seem particularly geared to the UK, so even better for you. (I’m in the U.S.) Sounds like they could at least be a good way to build an email list quickly and cheaply … you can run a $10 per day campaign and get traffic for .01/click — or at least in 2013 when the video was made. Like you said, though, Move On. And good luck.

    Reply
    • Thanks for popping by Lisa, and yes, I did feel there was more to the shutdown of my ads from Bing than meets the eye! But if they want to turn their noses up at the $400 per month I was spending, then that’s up to them. Facebook ads are going the same way, so things are constantly changing with PPC.

      I’ve used BuzzCity in the past but was never convinced their traffic is totally genuine. Lots of clicks, no conversions…much like 7Search. I now rely on free traffic as much as possible by using good old SEO, content and Long Tail Keywords.

      Best of luck in your IM career!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to James Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.