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Concerns About adCenter's Editorial Review Process Are Legitimate

Last week in a blog post meant to defend and demystify the process, Microsoft’s Maryn Juergens made the case that the adCenter editorial experience benefited advertisers and users alike by only allowing the most relevant copy and landing pages to be approved, making clicks more likely to convert and users more likely to return to Bing for future searches.  Asking advertisers not to “let the adCenter editorial review process scare you,” she explains that editorial is in place to ensure advertisers comply with guidelines and insists that the customer support team addresses appeals as quickly as possible. With all due respect to Ms. Juergens and the Microsoft adCenter editorial team, there are legitimate reasons why advertisers should be at least a little scared of the adCenter editorial review process. We understand that editorial review exists to ensure users receive high quality and relevant ads, however, the adCenter implementation is an overly cumbersome hurdle in the keyword/ad creation and modification process. In our experience, regardless of how well one follows adCenter’s Editorial Guidelines, something will inevitably be flagged with a “Pending Editorial Review” AKA “Inactive” status when a large bulk edit is made. This review process, as stated by the adCenter Support Center, can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete.
Disapproved Keywords in adCenter

Keywords Disapproved in adCenter

In the unfortunate instances when keywords or ads are disapproved following an initial review, you will need to submit an appeal through a “Contact Us” page or contact your account rep (if you have one) to escalate the matter to the editorial team. Account reps cannot manually override or otherwise expedite the editorial process; in our experience, the appeal process usually takes another 24-48 hours (ie. 1-2 business days). A couple days doesn’t seem that long in the big scheme of things, but consider a worst-case scenario where you’re running a one-week promotion that starts on Saturday at midnight. If caught in the “Pending Editorial Review” and/or “Appeal” process, your promotional copy might only end up being active for a few of those days with advertisers missing out on the additional sales from users who might have otherwise taken advantage of the promotion. To account for the potential delay, you could load “Paused” ads a day or two before a promotion begins, but unlike with Google AdWords, adCenter ads are only submitted through the editorial process after they have been “Activated.” Advertisers essentially have to choose between activating their promo copy after a promo begins, missing out on potential clicks while their copy is pending review, or activating promo copy in advance and paying for lower-converting clicks in the event that the copy gets through editorial quickly and begins showing before the promo actually begins (not to mention deal with the potential backlash from irritated customers who didn’t get the advertised promotion).  Both options disadvantage users, advertisers, and Bing itself since users don’t get the most relevant results at the right time - making them less likely to make a purchase and less likely to return to Bing for future searches. It gets a little “scarier” when you consider the sales lost when a potentially high traffic keyword or ad is disapproved, for example, one containing your own trademark. This is especially concerning now that Microsoft has recently changed their approach to policing trademark issues - meaning that the longer it takes to get trademark terms active, the longer your competitors can sit unchallenged in top positions on your trademarks, stealing away potential customers. We try to fix disapprovals ourselves as quickly as possible; however, sometimes a reason isn’t given for why a particular keyword or ad is disapproved.  Tinkering with elements of the KW/ad in the hopes that you can stumble across the reason for disapproval is both tedious and impractical.  In cases where you wish to contest the reason that is given (i.e. but my landing page IS relevant!) the process involves submitting a form or contacting your account rep.
Keywords disapproved with no explanation

Keywords Disapproved with No Explanation

For advertisers accustomed to the ease of simply checking a box in AdWords to request an exception, it’s no wonder the adCenter editorial review process seems mysterious, confusing, and even cringe-worthy. Fortunately, recent improvements give us hope. Since the Search Alliance, updates to the adCenter Desktop program have made it much easier to identify errors and apply bulk edits to keywords and ads.  Yahoo’s account reps (at least the ones we work with) are also extremely attentive and highly responsive to any of our concerns. Also, if you find keywords or ads containing your own trademark repeatedly being disapproved, you can ask for a “bypass” to whitelist your trademark. Note that this bypass is applied at the adgroup level by default and you will have to specifically request it at the account level to prevent your trademark from being disapproved in new campaigns and adgroups. We respect that the editorial review process is an important part of SEM, but a review process that is at times arbitrary and cumbersome can do more harm than good.   Advertisers have good reason to be wary of a system that issues disapprovals without a specified reason and doesn’t offer an easy way to request exceptions or resubmit keywords and ads. Even the most helpful account rep will have their hands tied when it comes to pushing time-sensitive copy through the system, which can leave advertisers hanging for days. We look forward to continued developments from the adCenter team that will one day enable the editorial review process to reach industry parity and create the best possible user experience - without scaring advertisers.
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