This is pretty funny – do a search for “keyword” in Bing and here’s an example of the ads that get served:

Bing keyword results

In other words, a seemingly random assortment of merchants – Bloomingdales, BMW of Sudbury, ankylosing spondylitis treatments, whip cream chargers?? Only one of the sponsored results has anything to do with keywords, the one on the bottom for an “SEO Site Analyzer” (notice, though, that the term “keyword” doesn’t even appear in the ad).

What’s going on here? My coworker Sergey figured it out – marketers or business owners are either uploading a spreadsheet or cutting and pasting from a document that uses “Keyword” as a heading. For example, Bloomingdales might have a keyword list that looks something like this:


Kate Spade


Michael Kors

And the heading – “Keyword” – is ending up on the list of keywords. So all kinds of disparate companies are bidding on the term “keyword” and their totally unrelated ads are showing up in the results.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a goofy mistake on the part of those advertisers, but it also points to a quality issue in Bing:

  • They’re clearly basing ad rankings primarily on bids, not relevance – on Google, you’d never (or hardly ever) see so many ads that are clearly irrelevant to the search query.
  • This is bad for advertisers and searchers – If anyone clicks on these ads, they’ll be sent to a page that has nothing to do with what they were searching for. And the advertisers have to pay for those worthless clicks.

Moral of the story? If you advertise on Bing, be very careful about what you’re bidding on, because you can’t count on the adCenter system to have your back..