How Microsoft handles bots clicking on ads

There’s been some recent discussion in the SEO blogosphere asserting that Bing clicks its own adCenter ads. This has created some misunderstanding. Let’s take a moment to clarify what is actually happening, and what this really means for webmasters and advertisers.

The Bing team is aware of an issue shared by all search engines: paid advertising links on sites are, on occasion, crawled and indexed by search engines. Standard practice in the search industry is to scan web pages for the purpose of indexing and understanding the site’s content, and to determine which ads match best the destination site. Microsoft adCenter does not charge an advertiser for clicks generated by any known search engine bots, including our own.

AdCenter uses a variety of techniques to remove bots, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Spiders and Robots protocol.  The IAB provides a list of known bots, and Microsoft bots are a part of that list. As a result, any activity generated by bots will not skew AdCenter data because it will be categorized as low quality in AdCenter Reports. You can view the Standard Quality and Low Quality data by accessing the AdCenter Reports tab.

In June, 2009, Microsoft received Click Quality Accreditation from the IAB, which holds the industry’s highest standards in click measurement. The IAB and independent third-part auditors verified that adCenter meets their requirements for Click Quality Accreditation, which includes not billing for our search bot’s ad clicks. For more information, visit the adCenter Blog, or the IAB site.

This issue exists for all search engines, and we all follow the practice of not charging for bot-driven ad clicks. We maintain the integrity of our engine and our advertiser’s experience as a very high priority, and welcome your feedback. Please visit our Webmaster Crawling/Indexing Discussion forum to leave your comments and questions.

— Rajesh Srivastava, Principal Group Program Manager, Bing