BingAds Manual Optimization Program and Budget Change Bugs

October 2, 2015 - 7 minutes read

bingads-scandal

The Tweet That Set The Whole Thing Off

This morning Andrew Bethel (who even while on vacation dropped news), sent out the above tweet. He also posted something similar to the Reddit PPC Subreddit and the tweets on Twitter and the comments on Reddit started flowing in.

Like any change in life this one seems to have followed a normal pattern. Shock. Anger & finally a return to more logical reasoning.

The Shock and Anger

WHOA budgets changing from 175 per month to 775 per month? That isn’t small.

On r/PPC another user shared a huge budget change

View post on imgur.com

Then another example from Melissa of a budget going from $1383 to $3999 a month.

Rational Thinking Kicked In

Bing Then Started Sharing Some Answers

Some of us even got involved in off twitter email threads and conversations with the BingAds team. They shared this email below as an example of what advertisers would receive for this “Manual Optimization Program”.

  • Bing Ads Manual Optimization Email

So What’s Really Going On?

In reality there are two separate issues which have come up today. One is the manual optimization program, and the other being budget changes in accounts. There is also a third which is, most ppc manager don’t spend enough time in their BingAds accounts to realize that some of this was happening, but that’s an entirely different issue which deserves its own blog post.

BingAds Manual Optimization Program

So from what I have been able to piece together from my correspondence with the BingAds team this program has been around for several months. A couple things you need to know

  • You can only be opted into this if you do not have a BingAds account manager
    • This means agency managed accounts with a BingAds rep should not be included
  • Each month a new group of accounts is invited to the program
  • They have 5 days to opt-out before the manual optimization team will start making changes

What changes will the manual optimization team make?

  • Sitelink Optins & other extensions potentially
  • Match Type Enhancements – could add more match types to your account for keywords you already have in your campaigns
  • Keyword Expansion – they can add new keywords (and match types) to your campaigns and ad groups
  • Bid Optimizations – adjust bids

All of these changes will be made to help meet budget goals already in place. In layman speak “if you aren’t hitting your budgets, BingAds could make changes to help you do that.”

What changes will they not be making?

  • Budget Changes!

All of the above changes (or non-changes) are all being done by an actual real live person. They have a team of specialists at BingAds that work on these manual optimizations (hence the manual part of the program name).

So if you do not want BingAds doing manual optimizations without notifying you prior to said changes you need to do one of two things (or maybe both)

  1. Become a managed account – this can be direct if your budget is big enough, or through an agency that has an account manager at BingAds working on their accounts
  2. Simply go to – https://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/optout-optimization and fill out the form to opt-out of this program.

Budget Change Issues

Around the budget change issues, there are actually two things going on.

  1. BingAds is changing monthly budgets based off of a daily budget.
    1. so if the month has more or less days than the previous month, BingAds adds or removes a days worth of budget from the monthly budget
  2. When making the previous changes there is a bug which has caused some budgets to have exaggerated changes happen.
    1. This is what caused those big budget changes mentioned in the tweets and Reddit comments above.

Bing is working on this issue actively. If for some reason you have had this issue with your budgets being massively changed, you should reach out to your account manager or the BingAds support team http://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/bing-ads-support

Final Thoughts

This has been a great case study in how companies should be proactively communicating with their customers. BingAds should have said something to the community at large around the manual optimization program. Because there was no clear communication, of information readily available online people started to panic.

I will say the BingAds team was super responsive to figuring out what was going on and answering questions after the fact. So I give them props there.

The other issue is this is almost a case of over-sharing. All of the “budget changes” happening started the whole conversation. BingAds could definitely do a better job of presenting these changes and Dare admits that they are working on it now – “We will fix this confusing UX.”

We however as advertisers have a responsibility to be more actively involved in our BingAds accounts. These budget changes have been happening for months, yet everyone appeared shocked by this. Granted some of the concern stemmed from the manual optimization program and a bug on budget changes this month, but my point is still valid.

Do you have anything to ad to this? Sound off in the comments

main image credit goes to Joe Martinez on Twitter