Bing About To Get Google-Like Product Listing Ads [Exclusive]

    January 31, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

We spoke with David Pann, GM of Microsoft’s Search Network, and he tells us that we can expect Bing’s version of product listing ads sometime this year. This may raise a few eyebrows, considering Bing’s heavy campaigning against Google’s PLA-based Google Shopping model, but rest assured, Bing’s not about to start a paid-only model for its shopping results.

Would you test the waters with Bing’s product listing ads? Let us know in the comments.

Just in time for the holidays, Bing launched a big anti Google Shopping campaign advising people not to get “Scroogled”. This was in response to Google’s transition to a paid inclusion model for shopping results.

“Merchants must now pay Google to be listed in the shopping results, and how much they pay helps determine how they appear in the rankings, so now every ‘result’ is really just an ad,” a Bing spokesperson told us at the time. “Unfortunately most consumers are unaware of this change because the disclaimers are not easily discoverable.”

We don’t have much in the way of details about Bing’s coming product listing ads (even their official name), but Pann says it’s not going to result in a pay to play system for Bing Shopping the way Google Shopping is set up. Google Shopping (as of October in the U.S. and since in other countries) is based solely on PLAs, but Bing will retain free listings as well. Pann says there is room for free and paid to co-exist.

When we talked with Bing’s Stefan Weitz in December, he told us, “The problem with Google’s Shopping results is that they look like search. They act like search. But everything one sees in the ‘search’ experience is bought and paid for.”

“In stark contrast, we simply don’t take money in exchange for ranking. Period,” he said. “The vast majority of our product listings come either from free feeds given to us by merchants and our crawler. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, it costs us more money to make sure we offer a quality shopping experience. But at least it’s still real search.”

“One of Danny’s issues is that we accept feeds from third party aggregators like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber,” Weitz continued, referring to a Danny Sullivan article criticizing Bing for engaging in some of the practices it seemed to be calling out Google for. “A merchant may pay to have their products listed in one of those third party sites. We, in turn, get feeds from those sites to make sure we have a complete product offering catalog. And if a customer happens to buy a product from a merchant who has paid one of the third party shopping sites to be listed, we do get a portion of that click revenue. But – and this is important – we DO NOT take into account the fact a merchant paid a third party when we rank our product offers. If we manage to get paid, it’s a happy accident. Unlike Google, it isn’t our business model.”

Pann expects the product listing ads to come to market sometime this calendar year.

Bing product listing ads have been spotted in the wild in the past. Last summer, RKG shared some screenshots of what Microsoft was testing at the time.

Bing PLAs

It’s unclear at this point if the finished product will look just like these. Pann did say the product would be similar to Google’s PLAs. He also noted that some “alpha testers” have been using them.

There has pretty much been nothing but positive data coming out about Google’s PLAs lately (positive for Google and for advertisers). In fact, Adobe recently shared some data with us indicating that Google PLA spend alone is nearly that of Yahoo Bing Network spend in the U.S.

Still, Yahoo Bing Network continues to take away market share from Google piece by piece. Microsoft points to independent data from firms like RKG showing that Microsoft’s Bing Ads and the Yahoo Bing Network have seen positive momentum already this year, and that Bing Ads have gained paid search spend share from Google for the fourth quarter in a row.

Pann attributes the Bing Ads momentum to a variety of factors. One is new ad formats like its version of sitelinks, which Pann says have seen rapid adoption. According to Pann, advertisers come over with the mentality of “It performs well over there [Google], so it will here too.”

Another factor, Pann says, has been Microsoft’s efforts in reducing friction for advertisers and making the system easier to use. He says Microsoft has adopted the philosophy of “what takes 45 minutes in AdWords should take 15 minutes with Bing Ads”. He also says the Google Import Feature has been a key factor, in its availability for the desktop tool, the API, and the user interface. Adoption of the feature, he says, has taken off.

Similar capabilities will likely be implemented in other tools in the future. He notes that Google’s agreement with the FTC (the part related to ad campaign data portability) is an important step in that regard.

Microsoft and Pann appear quite pleased with the level of success Bing Ads have seen in recent months, but Pann says, “We’re not finished by any means.”

The new product listing ads are just one thing Microsoft has up its sleeve for the year. Also on the horizon are Bing Ad Express (aimed at Small Businesses) and Click-to-Call ads with Skype integration. More on those here.

Are you looking forward to Bing offering product listing ads? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.bteam.biz reinhold berg

    keep us informed when item is ready to go

    in the past bing has not worked for us

    it was a waist of money , very little success bringing customers to out site

    we base advertizing money spend per orders received

    we are just like you

    need sales

    thank you

    d&b uniform co
    Reinhold Berg

  • http://www.thegamesupply.com Steven

    I would love to know when Bing is ready to launch a product listing feature… the others that I have tried gave so so results.

  • http://www.aweb2success.com/ Yusuf

    Looking forward to it. It may be a way to increase traffic

  • Tool

    I would like to hear Bing explain why their categories “Tools & Hardware” and “Car & Garage” are paid advertisement only.

  • http://www.kitchenknivesbygeorge.com Joe George, Owner

    I have 2 web sites. in addition to Kitchen Knives I have http://www.everydayslipcovers.com When I tried to enroll in Bing shopping, I was told that I could only do it through Shopping.com I tried to contact Bing because they kept saying they had a free shopping listings but got nowhere. I have been paying for PLA type ads for more than 6 months. They are a lot more expensive than Google but do produce results. So I’m confused as to why Bing is now saying they will launch this type of ads.

    • Cap’n Cyberzone

      Joe … the bastard hackers troll WebProNews looking for targets (those promoting their sites) … you just gave them two.
      Good luck.

  • http://www.netprofitmarketing.com Jared

    You knew this was coming sooner or later esp. with Google having some success with it.

  • http://www.earcandlelady.com Ear Candle Lady

    Unfortunately, after Google disallowed ads for Supplements, Ear Candles, and other alternative therapies, many small businesses went to Yahoo/Bing to advertise. I promoted that on my website and encouraged my visitors to use Yahoo/Bing for their search engines. NOW, MICROSOFT IS DOING THE SAME THING! Many of my visitors (who are also advertisers on Bing/Yahoo) have told me they are being eliminated in the same manner as Google did last summer. They can’t even get on the “Shopping” feed because “ear candles” has been disallowed as part of the domain name AND keywords to advertise!!!!!! Shameful!

  • Cap’n Cyberzone

    GOOD! After getting burned (hit with drive-by malware attack) because of googles sloppy Adsense code I’ll put my site back-up with Bing as my ad affiliate.
    Any company, like Google, that has a slogan “Do No Evil” is the devil’s spawn that’ll sell your soul and data to the highest bidder.
    Double check your Adsense code peeps (get rid of the google search window, for one) or you’ll be sorry!

  • https://plus.google.com/109655947417323448509 Mabuzi

    It gets harder and harder for the small guys to play on these fields as big business flex their influence.

  • Chris

    Hm, I’m confussed as to how people can read this and automatically take it as true. I follow Googles guidelines, never pay for advertising and rank very highly for my chosen searches, including in Google Shopping results. There may well be certain excluded markets, but to sugest that ‘all results are now ads’ is simply a lie and an attempt to drive more people to other search engines.
    If you’re serious about marketing, you’ve got to use the biggest and like it or not, Google is the place to be and you don’t have to pay for it.

    • http://www.thehousesignstudio.co.uk Antonia J

      Chris, you may be getting free product listings on Google now, but not for much longer. You must have seen the notices from Google, telling us that all product listings, will be pay per click within the next month or so.?
      How are small businesses supposed to compete if placement dependent on the highest bid? The big boys will outbid us everytime, making the web just like the high street, no little independent traders, just huge multi nationals…. and NO choice for the consumer.

  • http://easybidsauction.com Victor K

    As a new startup, I want customers to have somewhere that they can go to see all the new startups (The Global Startup Channel) to increase the customers awareness of what is out there that’s new. I’m happy to pay for this service (A one time payment for say 12 months), provided it’s a big name such as Microsoft or Google. When there is more $$$ around, I’m happy to pay to promote the site effectively, whichever means is more effective/per dollar spent.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    I really don’t understand Bing. Does Bing use Google’s ranking for websites to send traffic to sites or does It have its own criteria? Bing’s webmaster tool is not explicit as that of Google, and Bing’s business portal is still in beta state, is this business portal going to be different from the product listing ads?

  • Matt

    Bing does this because they are always in second place.
    IF the tables ever turn, or get close, so will both of their paid product inclusion policies