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Need Some Extra PPC Mojo? Revisit Bing Ads’ Syndicated Search Partners

John Lee
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For quite some time now, PPC practitioners have been telling you (or have been told) to steer clear of Bing Ads’ Syndicated Search Partner network. The "partner" sites are often irrelevant or simply send junk traffic. Many lead generation campaigns can see great conversion rates - but often this ends in frustration once it is realized a large chunk of those leads are incomplete forms, etc. Because of these concerns, the hard-lined opinion of "exclude Syndicated Search Partners by default" has taken root.

Maybe it’s time to revisit this strategy. Why? Because it is the lazy-man’s way out. There are bad websites in the network, yes. There can be issues with junk lead submissions, yes. But for all the bad, there is a lot of good. You just have to be willing to work for it!

Take Advantage of Available Data

Bing Ads gives us the keys to our performance by allowing us to actually see what websites our ads are showing on within the Syndicated Partner Network. If we find that one site, or 100 sites, are just not working - we can exclude them. Simple, powerful - and yet so many advertisers either don’t know about it or choose to ignore this fact.

It is quite simple. Within Bing Ads, go to "Reports" and find the "Website URL (publisher)" link in the list on the left.

bing-ads-reports

The report generated will be large and somewhat bulky. Each placement, including any impressions from Bing or Yahoo search ("Bing and Yahoo! Search Properties Only"), will be a separate line item by campaign AND ad group. That’s a lot to decipher, but if you are comfortable leveraging a pivot table, you’ll be A-OK.

bing-search-report

Once you run a pivot table and consolidate the data by placement, you can start to see the true picture of performance and make some decisions.

Find some true gems that prove why Syndicated Search Partners can be a good thing:

syndicated-search-partners

Find those sites that are dragging down your performance:

syndicated-search-partners-performance

If the problems you are having with the Syndicated Partner Network are in regards to lead quality, this is a bit harder to snuff out. Bing Ads does not currently have a way to dynamically pass the placement URL to your analytics data. At a rudimentary level, you can review the individual placements and discover that some of them are contextually irrelevant or just plain skeevy…this analysis requires some elbow-grease, but it will be worth your time.

Take Action: Exclusions

Now that you know what sites are performing poorly, you can exclude them. This is a more eloquent way to deal with the Syndicated Partner Network versus bullishly excluding the entire network. Bing Ads allows you to exclude these placements within Bing Ads Editor as well as the Web interface. Just copy your list of excluded placements from your data mining and proceed to paste into one of the following...

Bing Ads Editor:

bing-ads-editor

Bing Ads Web interface:

bing-ads-web 

Take Action: Segmentation

Running Bing and Yahoo search together with the Syndicated Partner Network is the default setting for Bing Ads. As such, the steps detailed above will get you moving toward improved performance within the construct of your current campaigns.

Long term, the recommended strategy is to split these channels up. PPC folks the world over have been clamoring for Google AdWords to do the same with their Search Partners, but to no avail. Bing Ads still allows this (for now?). Duplicate your existing campaigns and set one to run Bing and Yahoo Search and the other the Syndicated Partner Network. This way you can control budget, bids, and generally speaking have far greater control.

The settings for this are located at the ad group level. You can do this through the Web interface, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For my Mac friends, you should head directly to creating bulk spreadsheets. For the rest of us enlightened non-Mac PPCers, head over to Bing Ads Editor. Split your campaigns and then select all ad groups within each set of campaigns to make the change:

bing-ads-group

While I used to be one of those voices saying you should just outright exclude Bing Ads’ Syndicated Partner Network, I’ve seen the error of my ways. There is enough quality traffic to be gained there to ignore it as a viable channel. Does it require extra, often tedious work? Yes. But it is worth your time. Happy data mining and campaign segmentation!


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