Not two weeks ago, Google effectively killed off the Exact and Phrase keyword match types in AdWords – pissing a lot of paid search managers off in the process – and now, Bing is following suit.
Bing Ads is testing the inclusion of close variants in a portion of US exact match queries, according to an announcement on the Bing Ads blog. Unlike Google, which removed the option to turn close variant in exact match off, Bing Ads will still give advertisers the ability to opt out of it (at least for the time being).
If Bing moves this beyond testing and implements close variant in exact match across the board, it will affect all Bing advertisers, whereas Google's recent forced migration affected only about 3% of AdWords advertisers. Google took away the ability for advertisers to opt out, but the vast majority of users weren’t checking the opt-out box anyway. Adding close variants to exact match is completely new to Bing Ads.
In this test, Bing will focus on the following close variant types:
In their announcement, Bing Ads promises that including close variants in exact match helps advertisers maximize their presence and will drive more "highly qualified" clicks to campaigns. "Ultimately, this feature will be designed to match your ad to queries that represent exactly the same intent to those you are already using. The close variants feature does the work to optimize for you, ensuring that your ad shows when the query varies only slightly from the keywords you have already selected," they said.
For now, only a small portion of queries will be affected, but PPC advertisers using Bing should keep an eye on this. Those wanting to keep control over close variants can go into "Advanced Settings" and choose their close variant preference in "Keyword Matching Options."
If Bing follows Google all the way through, expect this to eventually become the standard.