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PMG Digital Made for Humans

The Lowdown on Search Partners: Opting out of Poor Performers

3 MINUTE READ | October 11, 2017

The Lowdown on Search Partners: Opting out of Poor Performers

What if 5% of your yearly spend was being wasted on low-quality Search Partner traffic, spending more than enough to drive several conversions without a single purchase? That’d be awful, right? Now, what if you could do something about it?

First (for those less familiar with Search Partners), a bit of background information:

Google defines Search Partners as sites “that partner with Google to show ads… [on] hundreds of non-Google websites… [such as] search results pages, site directory pages, or other pages related to a person’s search.” According to Bing, “Search Partners are all of the search websites outside of Bing and Yahoo! Search… [including] big publisher sites or smaller vertical sites… [most of which] are focused around specific verticals.”

In short: Search Partners extend an advertiser’s reach, widening the potential customer pool and deepening ad coverage.

In theory, the concept is great: Search Partners allow a brand to get its name in front of potential customers who might otherwise be unreached. That’s all well and good, but most of us probably want to see some kind of ROI in addition to exposure. So…

In Google, Search Partners are either enabled or disabled at the campaign level. New campaigns are opted into Search Partners by default, but the settings are easily changed.

In the UI:

Or in the desktop editor:

Bing, on the other hand, has more specific customization options, as advertisers can opt out of specific Search Partners. Let me say that again: In Bing, advertisers can see performance metrics for EACH. INDIVIDUAL. URL. via the website URL (publisher) report and choose to not direct traffic to specific Search Partners.

On a case-by-case basis, URLs that drive a lot of impressions with few clicks may be relatively harmless. But what about sites that do drive clicks? If conversions follow, the former likely applies here as well. There’s a chance, though, that those clicks will bring nothing more than additional cost. And that’s a case for which opting out of individual URLs is the answer.

In the UI, exclusions are applied in the campaign settings tab:

In the desktop editor, they’re applied under the advanced options menu:

Insights meet inbox

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Search Partners don’t always perform as desired. Whereas Google’s customization options are limited to the ‘all in or all out’ button at the campaign level, Bing allows advertisers to apply specific URLs as negatives. Or in their own words, “The beauty is that you can actually see where your search ads are showing and if those sites are driving you business or not. The control is in your hands, or mouse and keyboard as it may be.”


Posted by Emily Denney

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