WARNING – what Bing Ads don’t tell you about importing Adwords campaigns…

It’s about as easy to import a Google Adwords campaign into Bing Ads as it is to set up a new Google Adwords account. And that should be enough to set off warning bells…

Fair play to the guys at Bing who have clearly spent a lot of time and money making it as easy as possible to import a campaign – the interface is pretty user-friendly and as long as your Adwords campaign is well-organised and not littered with errors the process should be fairly straightforward. In fact the hardest part is creating a Bing Ads account in the first place (if you need one) – you have to create a Microsoft Live Account first, and they could make the customer journey here much more fluid – clicking confirmation links that don’t take you to the correct place & differently designed-landing pages are just a couple of issues you run into when doing this.

I haven’t had to import a campaign from Adwords to Bing for a few years, so to make sure I did everything correctly I called Bing for help. I directly asked them whether there were any key elements of campaign settings that did not get transferred over when you import a campaign from Adwords. They assured me that all settings like locations, bids, ad text, urls etc were transferred exactly, but that I should go through and ‘double-check’ everything ‘just in case’.

It’s a good job I did. I logged into BingAds, set the campaigns live and was amazed to find that all of my ‘Search Only’ Adwords campaigns were now set to show on Bing’s search AND content (display) network. I went to settings to change this but I couldn’t find an on/off switch, so I called Bing again.

Bing asked me whether I had many Ad Groups. Hundreds, I replied. Apparently the only way to turn off the content network is to do it individually for each ad group. Unless you have the offline BingAds Editor, which is a little daunting for your average small business marketing guy who wants to get his campaigns up and get on with running his business.

Fair play to Bing, they offered to use the Editor to turn the content network off for me – and this was done over the phone in about 2 minutes. But just like the default ‘your ads will show on all devices’ setting in Adwords, this danger is not obvious to people who import their Adwords accounts. I feel this is a deliberate tactic from Bing – it’s misleading and can lead to extra, unwanted spend which I’m guessing is what they want. I’m glad they sorted it out quickly, but they need to find a way to keep ‘Search Only’ Adwords campaigns off the content network in BingAds, or at least provide a large warning sign that this is going to happen when you import.

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About The Author

Michael Madew

PPC expert with over 10 years' experience in creating and managing highly profitable PPC campaigns on Google Adwords, Bing Ads and other paid search platforms.


  • James

    Reply Reply April 8, 2015

    Hey Mark, I noticed the same thing recently. I only noticed it because one of my ad groups was apparently receiving thousands of impressions from mobile traffic (from the content network).

    I too was told that you could only change this by each individual ad group, however you can indeed now change this in bulk. I use a Mac and gave up on using a virtual machine just for Bing Ads Editor, so use the web interface.

    If you go into the Ad Groups view then you can tick to select all and then go to Edit > Other Changes and then untick “Content network” and save.

    I actually received a refund for a percentage of the content network traffic that I received, so not so bad I guess.

    • James

      Reply Reply April 9, 2015

      Mark?! I meant Michael! Apologies.

    • Cory Bray

      Reply Reply August 16, 2016


      Very helpful tip on how to get it done…I do have a question for you or anyone else who come across this post.

      I see 2 options within the “Select Your Ad Distribution” menu:

      Option #1: Bing, AOL, and Yahoo search (owned and operated) only
      Option #2: Bing, AOL, and Yahoo syndicated search partners only

      I chose Option #1, but I am curious as to anyone’s feedback on #2.


  • Michael Madew

    Reply Reply April 9, 2015

    Thanks James that’s really useful. Another thing to watch out for is their search partners – again, you are opted into that by default.

  • SumRando

    Reply Reply October 29, 2015

    Even more dangerous – it converts the budget amounts to whatever currency your Bing account is in, regardless of what the Google currency is. So our 100 South African Rand became 100 US dollars. 100 ZAR = 7 USD, so you can see where there would be a problem if you didn’t notice it right away.

    I still don’t know how to turn off the content ads, and it is hurting our results. Would have been helpful to add that to this post.

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