Bing Votes 'No' on Political Ads

The policy will not likely impact Bing’s ad revenue as the search engine reports political ads make up a small portion of its advertising volume.

Bing announced on Friday it is disallowing U.S. political candidate and ballot measure ads.

Why search marketers should care

Bing’s decision to block U.S. political candidate and ballot measure ads impacts any U.S. candidate or political organization as they will not be able to run advertising campaigns on the country’s second most popular search engine.

“The regulatory environment for political candidate and ballot measure advertising is likely to continue to evolve rapidly in the coming months, making it complex to adhere with precision,” wrote Microsoft’s VP of global partner service for advertising sales, Kya Sainsbury-Carter, on the Bing Search blog.

The policy will not likely impact its overall ad revenue as Bing said political candidate and ballot measure ads make up a “very small” percentage of its ad volume.

While Bing published this announcement on Friday, the search engine has disallowed ads containing political (and religious) content for at least three months now as this was the standing policy in June when Search Engine Land’s sister website Marketing Land covered recent political advertising policy changes for social and search platforms: “The big list of political ad policies from leading social & search platforms.”

As things stand, there is a bit of confusion around what exactly Bing allows in terms of political advertising and what it is disallowing. Per Bing’s “Disallowed content policies” page, the search engine says it does not accept ads that contain or relate to political content. But, if you scroll down on that same page, it says political advocacy is generally permitted, as long as it complies with Bing Ads policies, and that political advertisements for political candidates, political organizations and political initiatives are allowed (as long as they meet Bing’s listed criteria, i.e. comply with federal and state election laws, not use incendiary language, etc.).

We’ve reached out to Bing to clarify the discrepancy between Friday’s announcement that it was stopping U.S. political candidate and ballot measure ads and the current language on its Disallowed Content Policies page that says such ads are, in fact, permitted on the platform, but have not received a response.

More on Bing’s political ad policies

  • Bing says it will be working in the coming weeks to remove any political candidate and ballot measure ads already running, and asks users to report any ads they see that violate the policy.
  • Per the company’s Disallowed Content Policies page, ads exploiting political agendas and “hot button” political issues are also not permitted.
  • Microsoft explicitly states in Friday’s announcement that it, “…works in non-partisan ways to serve campaigns, campaign committees, party conventions and election systems in a variety of ways,” and that its commitment to support the democratic process will not change.
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