As an agency, we manage multiple client accounts on both Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Recently we came across an interesting issue with Bing Ads that we are going to share in this article.

Disclaimer: Bing has updated conversion tracking in the meantime which solved the issue.

For the people unfamiliar with digital marketing terminology, conversion is a desired action on a website (like order, lead, newsletter subscription) and a proper conversion tracking is essential for making decisions about budget allocation according to company goals (ROI on advertising campaigns or other goals).

Google AdWords and Bing Ads have somewhat different approach when it comes to conversion tracking.

In AdWords, we both have an option to assign a conversion to a specific account or to use it across many accounts (useful feature when you have a conversion defined in a way that suits multiple accounts).

On the other side, when it comes to Bing Ads we manage all our conversions in a shared library across accounts. So there is one question that popped up at first glance:

Ok, but how does Bing know which conversion belongs to which account (they are shared across accounts and not assigned to a specific account in the interface)?

Bing Universal Event Tracking

To explain further why this could be an issue we can try to imagine a specific hypothetical situation where the same agency manages two accounts:

  1. The first account belongs to an online grocery shop, and the other belongs to a taxi service company in the same town (the same location makes it even more likely for the same user to convert on both websites).
  2. The user shops for groceries online and uses a Bing search engine. He clicks on a Bing ad, but in the process, he gets a call from his friend, forgets about the groceries and postpones it for tomorrow (so he doesn’t convert, although click on a Bing ad is recorded).
  3. Later he searches for a taxi service but uses Google this time. He clicks on an organic result and converts (he orders a taxi). So Bing Ads UET (Universal Event Tracking, introduced in October 2014.), records a conversion on a taxi website but the preceding click is a click on a grocery shop ad on Bing!

So, is Bing smart enough to know these are entirely different accounts or will it assign a taxi order conversion to a grocery shop ad click?

At first, we thought we probably hadn’t understood something well, cause it wouldn’t be very logical for Bing conversion tracking to work that way. So we decided to ask Bing support for further explanation. They told us not to worry because Bing compares ad landing page domain with a domain which contains UET tag (where conversion is recorded) so in that way, it can not mess up which conversion belongs to which account.

We wouldn’t call this an elegant solution cause it implies that Bing can’t track cross-domain conversions (pretty standard case is to have a webshop and a payment gateway on different domains), but at least we got our answer.

Finally, after some time we run into a situation where conversion is indeed recorded on the “wrong” account, which we suspected from the start could happen (the account which logged the conversion doesn’t even have UET implemented on the website and shouldn’t record any Bing conversions).

The explanation we got from Bing support unmistakably wasn’t correct. We decided to contact them once again. First line support wasn’t able to answer our question, so we had to wait for the info from the specialist. We got a whole series of emails with vague answers, but we kept asking. At the end we finally got our answer:

Our escalation team confirmed that the UET tag and goals exist at the customer level.  This means that that they can be used to track conversions for any of the accounts. Conversions are attributed to the last ad a customer clicked (provided the ad and goal belong to the same customer). So if a user clicks an ad for one account, goes to a site meant for another account and tracks a conversion, that conversion will be attributed to the first account.

We went back to your original inquiry if it is possible to set up UET in a way that conversions belong only to one account.  At this point, it works still at the customer level.  Good news is, they got a news that the next release of UET will feature account specific goals.”

Just to note, this doesn’t change our feelings when it comes to Bing Ads. We’ve managed successful campaigns in Bing, and we still think of it as a great advertising platform!

The situation stated above is rare and can easily be identified through Bing reports, so it doesn’t mess up data too much. Also, we have to say that Bing first line support was very kind and willing to help but it just seemed that nor they nor their specialists were appropriately instructed when it comes to this matter.

We would love to see Bing improve its web documentation and support info when it comes to UET. Having in mind the importance of conversion tracking in PPC campaign management, we should have been able to get answers to our questions much sooner!

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