Play the video above to view a full recap of the changes
Change is on the horizon for your Unified Marketplace (UM) accounts! Yahoo/Bing is about to roll out a few updates that could have a big impact on your ad spend. These changes, which will impact normalization and the way negative keywords are prioritized, are set to go live on 5/21. Read on to find out how you can make sure your account is ready.
First, advertisers will no longer have the ability to opt out of close variants. Close variants are terms that are almost – but not quite –the same as your exact match keywords. UM introduced this feature to make it easier for an advertiser to increase their coverage without uploading countless variations of their exact match keywords. Through what UM calls “normalization,” exact match keywords will match not only to queries that are exactly the same as the keyword, but all queries that are close variants of the keyword. Here’s the original chart released by Bing to define what will and will not match to your exact match keywords:
Many advertisers preferred to opt out of close variants due to the problems caused when trying to gauge performance of individual keywords, choosing to be more surgical with their ad spend. Unfortunately that will no longer be an option, but there is a silver lining – UM is also updating the way keywords normalize to give advertisers a little bit more control over where queries are matching. Below are the new changes, which will be implemented on 5/21:
There are still some grey areas. Let’s say, for example, that a shoe retailer has [combat boot] and [combat boots] built out as keywords. Without the ability to opt out of close variants, where will the query “combat boots” match? The new algorithm places preference on keywords that match the queries exactly, so the query would match to [combat boots]. However, the algorithm will make exceptions. Hypothetically, if [combat boot] had a much stronger historical performance than [combat boots], UM will match the query to [combat boot], which can complicate reporting.
Negative Keyword Changes
In addition to this, UM is also making adjustments to negative keywords. The good news is, negative keywords still will not normalize to any close variants. Hooray! The bad news is, some keywords that were once blocked by negatives will now begin to show.
The way things are now, when there is a negative keyword that conflicts with an active phrase or exact match keyword, the negative keyword blocks all queries that match to the active keyword from showing. After 5/21, when there is a conflict, UM will side in favor of the keyword which was bid on. The following chart shows what will and will not show moving forward:
In summary, UM is going to reduce the importance of negative keywords and expand the amount of queries to which each keyword can match. The potential for each keyword to show for more queries is a double-edged sword–you’ll get the most out of each keyword, but there’s real potential for spend to increase dramatically.
Is there any way to minimize the impact of these changes?
We suggest putting each of your head terms as an exact match keyword in its very own ad group. This way, you can negate any close variants at the ad group level and keep a clean record of how your top terms are performing, as well as how much spend they’re accumulating.
We also suggest that advertisers keep an extra-close eye on your phrase or exact match keywords. A large increase in cost could be due to the change in the way negative keywords are being treated – queries that were once negated could now be showing again.
Lastly, you still have time to streamline your negative keywords before these changes go live. In Bing’s UI, you can pull a Negative Keyword Conflicts report. This will show you all negative keywords that are currently preventing any bidded keywords from showing – but may not be for long. Do you have any questions about the way these new changes will work? Any ideas for battling close variants? Comment below to let us know your thoughts!