Bing’s Recent Announcement on Negative Match Types

leadershipA couple of weeks ago, John wrote about Bing moving to Enhanced Campaigns and the relative lack of outcry about it. Since it had been preceded by Google doing it, a lot of the angst had worn off.

In more Google-following news for Bing, they announced a few days ago that they will also be moving to Close Variants for Exact Match keywords. I saw some unhappiness on Twitter about it, but generally not a huge uproar. To me, this was no surprise and didn’t cause a stir in my day. While I was originally icked-out over the Close Variant move for AdWords, I have found that, generally speaking, they don’t match my clients to anything out of the realm of pretty normal. Sure, everyone can chime in with an example of weirdness, but at least in my world, the impact was minimal. Any oddities get found and dealt with, just as they would for Broad Match, and it isn’t sucking up huge amounts of time for me to do so.

Negative Match Type Logic Change

The bigger announcement for me in that blog post from Bing was in the future plans on the treatment of negative keywords. This isn’t copied from how Google handles negatives, and I had to think through this a bit to wrap my mind around it.

Basically, as things exist now, your negative keyword trumps whatever you have running. So if you bid on “purple sweatpants” and you add “purple” as a negative, you won’t show up for “purple sweatpants” anymore. Your negative keyword is the ultimate decision-maker. In AdWords, you are notified of this with the little “keyword conflict” error, though it will continue to operate the way you have it setup and running.

Starting May 21st, this will change for Bing, and become the reverse in some scenarios. Instead of treating it as a keyword conflict that will continue to run, it will treat it as a conflict and disregard your negative “rule” in many cases. The one way that won’t happen is by using Exact Match negatives, but treatments of Broad and Phrase instances will change.

Bing shared the following table, which started to make my eyes and brain swim a little after reading through it:


The overriding principles is that in keyword conflict situations moving forward:

  • Broad negatives will be ignored in favor of your bidded-on keyword
  • Phrase negatives will ignored when matched to anything other than Broad keywords
  • Exact negatives will be ignored when matched to Exact keywords

Put visually, here’s a stripped-down version of the Bing table. (Please note that the Broad keyword also applies to Modified Broad):



So what next?

To prepare for this change, Bing is encouraging you to consult the keyword conflict report. These match type changes will start on May 21st, so if you don’t address them ahead of time, you may see a lot more clicks then you’re used to seeing. Obviously, this could have a domino effect to your budget and your overall performance goals, so addressing these conflict types proactively will minimize any potential fall-out.

So what do you think? A sensible change, or is a potentially headache-inducing clean-up ahead of you for your accounts?