Microsoft Advertising to treat phrase match the same way Google Ads does in 2021

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Microsoft Advertising

The new treatment will begin in mid-May.

Microsoft Advertising will expand phrase match to include broad match modifier traffic, the company announced Tuesday. The change, which will start in mid-May, is to “simplify keywords and improve your relevancy when reaching customers,” the announcement reads. This new treatment for phrase match will bring the platform in line with Google Ads’ updated phrase match, which rolled out in February.

What’s the difference? The updated phrase match treatment means that your ads will be shown for searches that include the meaning of your keyword. Microsoft’s example is matching the query “winter vacation in Miami” to the keyword “Miami vacation.”

Word order will be respected “when it’s important—for example, it won’t match ‘milk chocolate to the keyword ‘chocolate milk.’”

Broad match modified (BMM) keywords are going away in August. Advertisers will no longer have the ability to create new BMM keywords beginning in August 2021. Their existing BMM keywords, and any keywords with partial BMMs, will serve under the new phrase match treatment. For reference, Google is also set to deprecate BMM keywords the month prior, in July.

No action is required as the switch will happen automatically and advertisers will retain access to their historical data.

Launching in other markets starting in June. This change will roll out in the U.S. and Canada over the next few weeks and in other markets beginning in June. Until then, phrase match and broad match modified keywords will continue using the old definitions.

Why we care. As we noted when Google first made this change, the new treatment may save advertisers time when it comes to managing keywords. On the other hand, it may also take time for advertisers to recalibrate their campaigns and traffic may fluctuate as Microsoft flips the switch.

Additionally, part of Microsoft’s strategy is to make adoption as easy as possible for those already on Google Ads. The change simplifies things for advertisers that are considering (or already) using both Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads as they’ll no longer have to factor in two different phrase match treatments.

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George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.

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