New Bing policy removes phone numbers from ad copy

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Microsoft has announced a change in Bing Ads that stops pay per click (PPC) marketers from being be able to display telephone numbers in the ad copy.

The editorial change was revealed on Tuesday and is the first alteration to the sites advertising editorial policy of this year.

Microsoft said: "The ad, title, body, URL, and any other ad extensions, such as Sitelink Extensions, can no longer feature phone numbers in plain text."

Instead, marketers must use either call or location extensions in order to display a phone number.

When a searcher clicks a phone number that has been set up in one of these extensions, Bing can charge a standard cost.

Google made a similar change to its ad policy in March 2013, and Microsoft follows suit at a time when its own share of the search market continues to grow.

What does it mean for Bing campaigns?

The change affects new and existing campaigns in different ways.

New campaigns become subject to the editorial policy change from February this year.

Existing campaigns can continue in their current form until June, after which point any ads that do not conform to the policy may be rejected. Rejection may also follow if an existing campaign is altered between February and June, as any edits will also be subject to the new policy.

Ginny Marvin, the paid media reporter for Search Engine Land, said: "If you want to keep those old phone number ads running until June, don’t touch them. Your best bet? Be prepared to start using call extensions and location extensions ahead of the February change."

At first, the policy only applies to the United Kingdom, USA, Hong Kong and Taiwan. However the operations PM for Bing Albert Wang said: "It is reasonable to expect this policy to be deployed in all markets, globally at some point in the near future."