Bing Allows Anything for Display URL?

Remember my PPC Display URLs and Affiliate Direct Linking Are Interconnected post two months ago? In it — being guided by Google AdWords policy — I argued:

Permitting “direct linking” (or Direct-To-Merchant (DTM) paid search bidding), however, implies that affiliates are allowed to link their paid search ads (through their affiliate links, of course) right to your website.

Yesterday, however, we spotted the following affiliate ad on Bing:

This was an affiliate agreement violator and brand hijacker (as Halloween Mart prohibits paid search bidding on its trademarks, URL, and variations thereof), but, as it is obvious above, they are — or, at least, they may think they are — not as bad of a violator as some others. The “keyword” they are using is the merchant’s full URL. They are also using it (twice) in the ad copy. But when it comes to the display URL, they went away from the actual merchant’s URL, and added the word “store” (in)to it… Apparently, Bing doesn’t require the display URL (the website address that the searcher sees on a PPC ad) to match the domain of the destination URL (the page on which they land upon clicking the paid search ad).

Minutes after my tweet about the above situation, a well-known super affiliate and affiliate marketing advocate Scott Jangro tweeted:

Google started requiring for the display URL to match the landing page URL in early 2008 [more here]. Apparently, Bing still doesn’t.

Affiliate program managers must be aware of this tactic, and treat my Display URL and DTM Linking post in light of the above exception (at least, until this gets addressed by Bing).

11 thoughts on “Bing Allows Anything for Display URL?”

  1. Having received a number of emails, I’ve looked into this further, and confirmed the above observation in another affiliate program (which we do not manage, but it’s easy to spot things like this if you’re using the right tools). In

    There is an Alpha Omega Publications affiliate bidding on on Bing, displaying as a URL on their PPC ad, and direct-linking to the merchant through an affiliate link:

    At the time of this comment is a domain that isn’t even registered.

  2. Interesting. It might work right now; but I hope Bing cracks down on this practice.

    All this does is cause a few companies to have short term revenue gain at the detriment to all PPC advertisers.

    When consumers are tricked (and searchers read the display URLs); and start having bad experiences with ads – they stop clicking on them in the future. If a practice like this becomes widespread, then consumers will stop trusting ads on Bing and stop clicking on them (or worse, just stop using Bing because of the deception).

    Hopefully, Bing will see this issue and fix it soon.

    1. Brad, thanks for chiming in. I agree with you. It may eventually cause negative effect on the overall performance and popularity of Bring Search Advertising as a marketing channel.

  3. Geno – Good eye and I’m surprised Bing isn’t catching something this simple. It shouldn’t be hard for them to check that the Display URL and Destination URL at least share the same root domain. Hopefully this is a bug that gets fixed quickly.

    As for the URL showing twice in the ad text, that’s just DKI at work and I see it all the time, even when companies bid on their competitors URLs as keywords.

  4. Bing doesn’t allow it, but it is quite common. Our conversations indicate that they don’t try to enforce this today. At some point of course, that might change.

    Merchants can get these ads taken down by submitting a trademark request to AdCenter (unlike typical affiliate trademark poaching).

  5. As annoying as it was to update all URLs for the change in ’08, it’s a move that helped bring credibility to PPC. Bing is not doing its part here…

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention again, Geno!

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