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Yahoo Bing CPCs Up? Here’s How to Combat Them

yahoo-bing-cpcIf you’ve noticed CPCs going up in Yahoo Bing, you’re not alone. Yahoo Bing made some subtle changes to its cascading bidding structure last year, putting it more in line with Google.

The net result, from what we’ve seen across various clients in different verticals, has been an effective rise in CPCs. Starting late last year and continuing into the beginning of this year, this negative impact on eCPM has impacted both branded and non-branded campaigns.

Costs Growing, Clicks Declining

For branded campaigns, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in CPCs, coupled with a drop in overall click-through rates (CTR) in tandem with lower average rank. These trends appear to be due to a loosening of standards in competitive bidding within Yahoo Bing’s algorithms.

For one specific advertiser’s competitor campaigns (a campaign set up specifically to run on core competitor’s terms) across both engines, we found that Yahoo Bing served 968 percent more impressions than Google. But even more concerning, the observed CPCs were 31 percent higher, average rank 51 percent lower and an average eCPM 33 percent lower since the start of these campaigns at the end of January.

These trends seem to signify that Yahoo Bing is now less stringent on mapping competitors to your branded keywords, most likely through broad match keywords that competitors run on that aren’t necessarily your branded keywords.

For non-branded campaigns, similar performance has been tied to a significant spike in impression volume. In this case, it appears to stem from keywords being mapped to seemingly less relevant traffic. The majority of this traffic was coming through broad matched terms.

While an increase in broad match traffic does not always have a negative impact, we validated the impact by measuring the drops in eCPM.

How to Combat Higher CPCs

What’s a marketer to do to keep costs in line and efficiency up?

  1. Perform an account eCPM check across both engines:
    • Simply put, CPCs should align with the engine that has the highest eCPM.
    • If CPCs are not aligned with eCPM, manually adjust budget allocations.
  2. Run search query reports regularly (ideally, every two weeks) to ensure no irrelevant traffic is getting to branded or non-branded campaigns:
    • Use these to identify negative and, potentially, more exact match and phrase match terms to eliminate high volumes of traffic on broad match terms.
  3. Ramp up your Brand defense
    • Competitors may be getting higher impression shares on your branded terms. Be prepared to compete with them via differentiated ad text that aligns with your brand’s core values.


No one ever said paid search was a “set it and forget it” tactic. And you shouldn’t expect the engines to let you know about each and every tweak to their algorithms and what impact they may have.

Keeping a close eye on changes in the marketplace is an absolute must for any campaign. Knowing how to react to these changes is what will keep you successful.

SES New York

Become an Expert Digital Marketer at SES New York
March 25-28, 2013: With dozens of sessions on Search, Social, Local and Mobile, you’ll leave SES with everything you need to know. If it’s your first time, don’t miss the Newcomers Meetup on Monday, March 25. Register for SES today!

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