Bing Ads Network Distribution Settings Glitch

Let me first start off by saying that I’m a big fan of Bing Ads. I strongly recommend it to all of my clients that we set up their campaigns on Bing in addition to Google. Last year I even wrote a blog post about how important I think Bing is. But something has happened recently with Bing that has really irked me. Not so much that I’m going to change how I use it for clients, but it’s something that PPC advertisers have to be aware of.

I’ll cut to the chase… If you’re importing search network campaigns from Google to Bing online (as opposed to offline with Bing Ads Editor), there’s a very good chance that your ads are getting opted into the Bing ‘content network’. The content network is similar (but not the same) as Google’s Display Network. But the one thing is absolutely the same about Bing’s Content Network and Google’s Display Network is that if you take your search campaign and opt it into the content/display network, you’ll be wasting a whole lot of money.  In order to succeed on a content/display network, you need to approach it with a strategy dedicated to that particular network.

In the recent past, if you were importing a search network campaign from to Bing from Google, Bing understood that because the campaign wasn’t opted into the display network, it wouldn’t be opted into their content network. In early February 2015, I started noticing some irregularities with some of our campaigns when I noticed the spend was much higher than normal. I quickly determined that this was because the campaigns somehow got opted into the content network. I quickly changed the settings, and didn’t think too much of it. But then I noticed the issue was continuing. So I contacted Bing live chat support – multiple times – in order to, a) get a credit for my clients who were mistakenly opted into the content network and, b) figure out why this was happening in the first place. I succeeded with my first goal, but each time I asked why campaigns were getting opted into the content network, the response I got was basically that nothing had changed on Bing’s end, and their default settings are to opt campaigns into the content network, despite the fact that one rep actually not told me that their recommended setting is not opt into the content network. I tried to explain that normally, my search network campaigns are not automatically opted into the content network, but the reps simply didn’t (want to) hear what I was saying. I even had one rep stoop to the level of suggesting that I should have known better given that I’m a Bing Ads Accredited Professional, and that I should know what the default settings are, and I should know how to change the ad distribution network settings. #worstcustomerserviceever

I finally got some time to actually call in and speak to a real person. Thankfully, she was able to get to the root cause of the problem relatively quickly. She admitted that at some point in late January both Bing and Google made some changes that resulted in a glitch in their system which has started to cause some Google search network only campaigns to get opted into the Bing content network.  Bing made no announcement about this to let advertisers know about this glitch, and based on my experiences with the live chat support, it wasn’t even properly communicated internally.

Unfortunately, there is no way when you’re importing a campaign to change the import settings to opt out of the content network/only opt into the search network. Importing via Bing Ads Editor everything works fine. Here are the steps that you have to take after importing your campaign.

  1. Go to ‘Ad Groups’ and the select all ad groups

bing ad groups


2. Select ‘Edit’ and then ‘Other Changes’


bing other changes


3. Then Hit Apply

bing network distribution settings

It’s this last step that’s a little maddening/confusing. I’d wager that 99 people out of 100 would look at this and assume that because ‘Content Network’ is not ticked off, that would suggest that you’re not opted in the content network. But that’s not so. As I mentioned earlier, they have it set up this way apparently because that’s their recommended setting.

This glitch has the potential to waste a lot of money



About Steve Gould

Steve Gould is the President of Fidelity Internet Marketing. We help small- and mid-sized business owners understand what web marketing is all about & drive qualified visitors to their website that turn into customers.