MS Denies using Explicit PPC Links to Promote Bing

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has denied suggestions that it has paid to use an explicit term (synonymous with film making) to promote its search engine Bing. Microsoft claims the pay-per-click (PPC) link to the site must have been triggered by another phrase.

The controversy over the illicit keyword began when a writer at -- who asked to remain anonymous -- somehow wound up searching for the 'nasty' word in Google. The writer was surprised to find that the number one listed item in the sponsored pay-per-click results section was for Microsoft's search engine Bing. (Source:

How PPC Works

The link results pay-per-click were generated through Google's Adwords system. The Adwords system is where firms bid to have their ads appear on sponsored search when users search for a particular phrase. In this case, the phrase was explicit.

In principle the first listed result will be from the firm which bid the highest amount per click, though the top bidder will disappear from the sponsored results once they've hit their monthly preset budget for spending on Google's Adwords.

Microsoft Adamant: Keyword Was Not Used

However, Microsoft is adamant that it is not using sex to sell a search engine, issuing a statement saying: "Microsoft has not purchased the keyword [redacted] and this term has never been in our AdWords account. It is our policy on the Bing marketing team that we do not have any adult [subject matter] as part of any of our keyword buys or other marketing campaigns. The keyword that seems to be triggering these results is 'free videos.' We are following up with Google to understand why this ad is showing up in these types of queries." (Source:

At the time of writing, Bing was no longer appearing in the sponsored results section.

Parental Problems

It's not the first time Bing has made headlines over adult subject matter. When the site first launched, eagle-eyed teenagers noticed that the way the site's video search allows users to play clips without leaving the site meant they could often watch explicit material without triggering parental control software. Microsoft later tweaked the site to display such content on a different server that could be blocked by parents.

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