Bing, Following Google, Will Test Close Variants in Exact Match

Starting the week of August 25, Bing Ads says it will test the inclusion of close variants in exact match in the U.S. for a portion of queries.

During its test, Bing says exact match will include “minor grammatical variations,” such as plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, spacing, and misspellings.

The Bing Ads close variants test will be subject to “extremely high relevancy thresholds,” and close variants will be mined from a number of “highly qualified sources,” Bing adds.

Bing also says exact match close variants will help drive more highly qualified click volume to campaigns, which will maximize an advertiser’s presence on the queries that are the most relevant to its products and services.

“Ultimately, this feature will be designed to match your ad to queries that represent exactly the same intent to those you are already using,” writes Microsoft group program manager Matt Bisson in a blog post. “The close variants feature does the work to optimize for you, ensuring that your ad shows when the query varies only slightly from the keywords you have already selected.”

Bing says it expects this test to cover the close variant types below:


The announcement comes after Google said AdWords would apply close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords in late September.

According to WordStream chief technology officer Larry Kim, keyword match type consolidation is one more step toward a “keywordless search” future and he expects to see more updates like this in the near future.

“Keywords have served us well for the last 15 years as a proxy for commercial intent,” he writes in an email. “They’re definitely still important, but are relatively less so if you consider product updates like Hummingbird, which can infer intent of ambiguous searches, as well as AdWords Express and Google Shopping, which trigger ads without even requiring advertisers to specify keywords.”

In addition, Kim notes search engine ad platforms are phasing out older ways of optimizing PPC campaigns that involved cloning the account structure like device targeting and now phrase and exact match.

“By eliminating those features, they’re forcing us to shift the focus away from these low-level operations,” Kim notes. “Going forward, ROI will be found by investing in more strategic elements of paid search advertising, like ad copy and landing page optimization as well as negative keyword research. I think they’re making the changes to make PPC campaign management less confusing for new advertisers, which is where much of their future growth will come from.”

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