Search ads for tech support firms banned

Hot on the heels of Google announcing it has joined Facebook in banning “payday loans” ads, Bing says it’s banning third-party tech support ads.

The reason? User safety. A blog post by Bing Ads’ Demand Quality Product Manager Liz Walsh states: “This policy change reflects Microsoft’s commitment to lead the industry in providing a safer experience for all of our end users, including populations most vulnerable to online scams and other fraud activities.”

The revised policy now reads:“Bing Ads disallows the promotion of third party online technical support services to consumers because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety.”

The ban is effective immediately worldwide. As for the violations which prompted Microsoft’s action, Bing’s Bad Ads report says that last year it blocked over 15 million ads and 25,000 sites for promoting illegitimate third-party tech support services. Typically, these ads represent the companies as providing Google, Gmail, Facebook or other support, but are little more than scams designed to hoodwink less savvy consumers into paying out large sums to fix technical issues that do not, in fact, exist.


Third party tech support ads are no longer easy to find on Google, but can be found. 

Why should you care?

Rather than try to differentiate between the good and the bogus, Microsoft has banned all third party tech support advertising outright. Obviously, that’s not good news if you’re a legitimate IT operator with appropriate qualifications and a good service record.

Will Google follow suit? We can’t be sure.

As noted in our coverage on Google’s banning “payday loan” advertisers, it’s important to make sure your business is not over-reliant on paid search advertising.

Increasingly, search engines are being held accountable for the ads they show, requiring they more actively police those they accept to ensure that they are indeed legitimate.

Rightly or wrongly, consumers now assume that a site’s inclusion in search engine results confers legitimacy. And, disturbingly, many still fail to differentiate paid search ads from natural search engine results. Bing is widely recognised as being more lax in policing ad quality than Google. But thankfully neither are in the same boat as Baidu, now under investigation following the death of a college student who undertook a bogus cancer treatment advertised on the Chinese search engine.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.