Bing Testing Ads Mixed With Organic Search Results

Jul 25, 2011 • 9:00 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Bing Search

Rimm Kaufman Group spotted a test where Bing was placing ads between the organic free search results.

The ads were not being tested above, below or on the side of the organic results. Instead, they were being tested between the organic free results. Just take a look at the picture from RKG below (click on it for a larger version) and see how hard it is to tell they are ads. See the little "ad" icon on the right, how it can easily be missed.

Bing Ads in Organic Results

I received confirmation of the test at Search Engine Land, where Microsoft told me, "We're constantly testing and experimenting on Bing, and with that, we carefully measure user engagement and reaction to these changes. We have nothing further to share at this time."

That being said, Stefan Weitz, the Director of Search at Microsoft, commented on my Google + post on this saying:

To be clear -this is a flight for placement of algo driven ads lower in the page - not paid inclusion. We test stuff all the time - if the experience isn't good, it doesn't ship.

Yea, no one said it was paid inclusion but I did say this was the closest thing to paid inclusion I have seen in a long time. In October 2009, Yahoo finally decided to drop paid inclusion because of all the confusion it caused. Now, paid inclusion is actually a lot better, in my opinion, that sticking paid ads in the organic results. That being said, Stefan made it clear that this is just a test and if the market says no - it likely won't be rolled out.

Of course, PPC managers and management companies would love to see this. It would drive their clicks and conversions up drastically. But would you ever see such an implementation from Bing? I am not sure, I hope not. It just blends the unbiased, unpaid for, search results with the paid search results too much.

Forum discussion at Google + & WebmastwrWorld.

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Nick Stamoulis

07/25/2011 03:02 pm

If something like this were to roll out, I wonder how the average user would react? Would people even notice right away? I have to admit it took me a second to see which listings were actually ads, and I had the heads up! Would a visitor feel like they had been tricked? It might increase a PPC ad's CTR, but would you actually earn additional business from it?

Mr. Gary Lee

07/25/2011 04:43 pm

This isn't new with Yahoo involved. I know they've been soliciting top corporations to pay for high placement in Organic Results. Don't do it Bing! You're on a nice path . . just keep on innovating and improving! Competition Breeds Innovation!

Roie S

07/25/2011 05:59 pm

To me this looks better and more natural then say, placing top 10 results as local or review results, its also how the majority of websites show ads. looks like a good way for rewarding paying advertisers rather then pointing users to the search engine's own scraped (or original) content


07/26/2011 03:52 pm

It sure does "look more natural" - almost organically natural!  ;)  The FTC dictates that the ads must be identifiable - it doesn't mean they cant better coax people along into clicks with clever placement. Nobody really loses here and I'll bet consumers wont care...


07/27/2011 05:15 pm



07/28/2011 08:17 am

Not so great for those who rely on natural traffic when they see their listings get pushed lower down the page


07/28/2011 04:04 pm

there were editorial rules/regs around # of listings appearing in the SERP when it came to paid inclusion...

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