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We are committed to delivering world-class service to our advertisers and publisher partners. Likewise, we are dedicated to protecting our marketplace from click fraud, conversion fraud, phishing, malware and maintaining our traffic quality standards. To those ends, we’ve created this online resource to provide advertisers and publishers with information about our traffic quality protection systems and policies.

As you read through the following information, be aware that even with these systems in place, we cannot guarantee to catch every instance of low-quality, fraudulent activity or suspicious traffic. If you suspect click or conversion fraud, please report it to our team and we will investigate it promptly.


Microsoft Search Network traffic

Traffic is comprised of ad impressions, clicks and conversions served on Microsoft Bing, AOL and Yahoo owned and operated or syndicated partner websites.

Click quality

We categorise clicks as standard quality, low quality and invalid.

  • Standard quality: Normal customer ad clicks.
  • Low quality: Clicks that exhibit characteristics of unclear commercial intent, and patterns of unusual activity. This includes invalid clicks.
  • Invalid: Clicks that exhibit characteristics of user error, search engine robots or fraudulent activity.

Microsoft Advertising uses real-time and post-click systems to help guard against low-quality and invalid clicks.

How Microsoft Advertising works to detect and respond to invalid clicks

We recognise that invalid clicks can be a serious issue for advertisers. We systematically analyze clicks to determine their validity, and, when possible, remove invalid clicks before they are reported to you.

If potentially invalid clicks are detected, members of our team can flag the case, examine the affected account(s), and issue refunds where appropriate. See the Network protection page for more details.

We have several methods of identifying suspected invalid clicks and continually work to refine our technology to correctly identify invalid click activity.

What happens if my advertising violates Microsoft’s Policy:

  • Microsoft may deactivate your Microsoft Advertising account.
  • Microsoft may collect any outstanding balance due on valid clicks for any ads that may violate policy.

Our team

We have dedicated teams around the globe that work 24/7 to detect fraudulent activity and help protect our traffic quality.

  • Proactive engineers: We employ dozens of engineers dedicated to continually developing and improving the Microsoft Advertising traffic filtration and network monitoring systems.
  • Traffic quality investigators: The Microsoft Advertising Traffic Quality team is a customer-focused support team that partners with support agents, proactive engineers and other Microsoft support teams to provide comprehensive and detailed analysis services regarding advertiser complaints involving invalid clicks, fake leads and malware.


Network protection

How we work to protect you

Microsoft Advertising takes user, advertiser and network protection very seriously. Between Microsoft Advertising and the Microsoft ecosystem of security and privacy products, we try to ensure that the Microsoft Search Network provides quality traffic and a safe experience for our customers.

Here are some specific methods we use to help protect advertisers:

  • Click filtration system: Our proprietary click filtration system is a complex series of filters that automatically work to identify low-quality and/or invalid clicks that will not be billed to advertisers.
  • Pricing discounts: In some markets, our systems evaluate in real time the quality of syndicated partner traffic and may adjust the price charged to the advertiser for associated clicks. If this is available in your market, there’s nothing you need to do to take advantage of these pricing discounts. Discounts are applied automatically based on data available to Microsoft Advertising pricing technology.
  • Removal of offenders: When we identify low-quality domains as a result of our proactive monitoring or reactive investigations, we reserve the right to remove those domains. We also employ industry standard IP black-listing methodologies.
  • Advertiser credits: When we identify invalid activity through our automated systems and reactive investigations, we issue credits to advertisers affected by this activity. We also might use those findings to update our automated click filtration system to proactively detect and filter similar activity in the future.
  • Detection methods
    Network protection detection methods
  • Proactive: The Microsoft Advertising platform contains a robust invalid click filtration system, which deploys various algorithms to automatically detect and neutralise invalid clicks. Additionally, Microsoft Advertising engineers proactively review system alerts and data trends in order to identify suspicious activity, to address clicks that may have escaped the automated filtration systems, and to credit advertiser accounts for those clicks.
  • Reactive: Microsoft Advertising support teams work closely with advertisers to answer questions or address issues with their traffic quality. Microsoft Advertising Traffic Quality teams review advertiser complaints around suspicious click activity and work across many internal teams to verify data accuracy and integrity. If an advertiser complaint identifies invalid click activity that escaped the automated filtration system, the Traffic Quality and support teams will process a credit to the advertiser’s account, and will partner with internal teams to determine whether they can update automated systems in order to improve detection in the future.

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Ad placement

Understanding where your ads will appear

Within the Microsoft Advertising Network, your search ads can be displayed on Microsoft sites and select traffic, syndicated partner sites, or both. Your search ads can be displayed on the following types of websites; this list is not exhaustive and may vary from market to market.

Microsoft sites and select traffic

These sites include Microsoft sites (Microsoft Bing, MSN, and and Select partner traffic with ad performance and conversion rates similar to Microsoft Bing’s, such as traffic from*. Many of these sites have search query boxes and search ads displayed on search results pages. Some pages also feature popular topics or news stories that change throughout the day. These also provide links to search queries resulting in the display of search ads. Owned and operated properties might also display search ads in ways as described below.

* Not everyone has this feature yet. If you don't, don't worry, it's coming soon!

Bing, AOL and Yahoo search syndication partner sites

If you choose to have your ads displayed on syndicated search partner sites, your search ad may appear on the following types of sites, in addition to search results pages.

  • Sponsored search
    Sponsored search partners own sites that are part of the Microsoft Search Network. In some cases, these implementations feature a search box allowing a user to enter search terms which then result in the display of search results and/or search ads. Some partners also offer a downloadable toolbar or application. Toolbars, by definition, contain search boxes that resolve to a search results page featuring search ads, depending on the query entered by the user. Applications offer users a variety of options in addition to search box opportunities and will display search ads depending on the query entered by the user.
  • Directory / category search
    Directory or category search involves user navigation through a directory, which can be similar to a table of contents for a website. These sites contain links listed below categories of interest (e.g., electronics, home and garden, jewelry) that allow users to fine-tune their web browsing by drilling down into specific sub-specialty interests, which may result in a page showing search ads.
  • Domain and error implementations
    Parked domain sites (and other domain match sites) are part of the Syndicated Search Network. Domain Match serving technology matches search term keyword suggestions and sponsored ads relevant to undeveloped domain names and unregistered domain names. The Domain Match product refers to advertisements or related keyword suggestions displayed on a landing page that typically receives significant type-in traffic.

    Error channel partners will provide users with relevant categories of keywords or ads in cases where the original domain they try to access would normally result in a "page not found error." These error pages display keywords and search ads according to the original query/domain input.
  • Arbitrage
    To increase the volume of high-quality traffic to their sites, some of our syndicated partners are approved to advertise with other providers. This might increase the number of visitors to a partner’s site, where your ads may be displayed and thus might drive additional users to your website.
  • Suggested Search
    “Suggested Search” is an implementation that consists of a list of keywords featured on a webpage, sometimes at the bottom of an article, or within an email. These related keywords are generally related to the content on the page. Just as with a standard search query, a user who clicks on one of the featured keywords in the labeled ad is then taken to a search results page that may include search ads. In some circumstances, such as sensitive news articles, non-related keywords are used.
  • Mobile
    Search ads can be displayed within a mobile browser or app, depending on the query entered by the user.
  • Email
    Email implementations within the Microsoft Search Network are CANSPAM compliant and consist of keyword links which then take users to a search results page. This is a two-click implementation, meaning that a user has to click twice before reaching an advertiser webpage, which further qualifies the traffic.
  • Qualified search
    Qualified search allows some websites to display sponsored search results after a user performs a query on an approved search engine. In some cases, if a user performs a search on an approved search engine and then clicks on a search result that is not an ad, search ads for their originally matched query may be displayed on the new page.
  • Search enhancers
    A search enhancer is a user-installed application which displays sponsored search ads above or beside the search engine results. A user has to actively download this application in order for the functionality to take effect. If a user has installed an approved search enhancer and then performs a search on another search engine, sponsored ads are displayed at the top of the page for the query they performed.
  • Other implementations
    Microsoft Advertising places search ads on a wide variety of sites, with frequent changes and enhancements. The list above, therefore, is not exhaustive. Please refer to the Advertiser resources page for information on tools available to monitor and control your traffic sources, including the ability to exclude certain sites from your ad placements.
Publisher resources

Syndicated partners are an integral part of our advertising network and business. It is important that all syndicated partners adhere to our Microsoft Advertising policies and follow a set of industry standard best practices.

Best practices

Relevant and quality content
High-quality original content may result in a positive user experience that meets the needs of your intended audience.

Sites displaying Microsoft ads must adhere to the Microsoft Advertising policies, and may not include content promoting or enabling any of the following:

  • Hate speech, including sites devoted to intolerance, violence, defamation or destruction of peoples, races, religions, countries or ideologies.
  • Weapons, ammunition, harmful substances or glorification of violence.
  • Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia.
  • Gambling or casinos.
  • Pharmaceutical sales unless site is certified by NABP/VIPPS.
  • Trademark and copyright infringements, e.g., sites devoted to selling fake handbags or bootleg DVDs, or sites promoting illegal file downloads.
  • Fake documents and cheating services: sites enabling a consumer to evade the law, education systems or other good-faith arrangements.
  • Hacking, cracking, security evasion and surveillance.
  • Bulk marketing, email address mining or instructions on how to spam.
  • Multi-level marketing, get-rich-quick sites or work-from-home sites.
  • Excessive profanity.
  • Other illegal or offensive content, or any content that infringes on the rights of others.

Proper implementation and website behaviour
To prevent invalid or low-quality clicks, ads should be implemented properly on websites with clear navigation and user controls.

  • Sites may not contain any pop-ups or pop-unders that are not part of a user-initiated action.
  • Sites may not issue any “leave-behinds” or other actions when a user clicks away from the page.
  • Site may not improperly entice, suggest or encourage users to click on ads.
  • Sites whose primary intent is to improperly induce end users to click on ads are not permitted.
  • Sites with entirely or largely imported content are not permitted.
  • Sites may not download software onto or change settings on a user’s machine without the user’s
  • express permission.
  • Sites may not disable the user’s back button or otherwise interfere with a user’s navigation path.
  • Sites must offer content that is primarily in a Microsoft Advertising supported language.
  • Sites under construction or unfinished are not permitted.
  • Sites requesting personally identifiable information (PII) from users must contain a prominent link to a privacy policy.

If you see any of these issues, please notify Microsoft Advertising Support.

Clear ad labeling and placement
Ads should be clearly distinguished from other website content preventing unwanted or mistaken clicks.

  • Publisher pages may contain up to three ad units, containing ads.
  • Ad units must be clearly marked as advertisements and users must be able to distinguish advertising links from other links on the page.
  • The ad block or ad unit may not be displayed as a pop-up.

Microsoft reserves the right to remove any website at any time from the Microsoft Search Network at its sole discretion. 

Advertiser resources


To obtain as many valuable clicks as possible, there are several tools and resources at your disposal. The information on this page will help you learn more about managing your ad campaigns and monitoring ad click traffic for changes in the quality and volume of that traffic.

Monitoring and adjusting campaigns
Advertisers should regularly monitor their campaign performance by using suggested best practices, and make adjustments to fit their business needs. Further, if you suspect invalid click activity in your campaign, contact a support representative to open an invalid click investigation.

Articles for advertisers

Best practices for monitoring campaigns for quality

Microsoft Advertising has several reports to help improve your conversion rates and boost the return on your investment. For example, when you run the Publisher Performance report, you'll see the websites showing your ads (and the type of ad displayed) based on your ad distribution settings.

To learn more, visit reports.

Monitor ad click-through and conversion rates
You can use reports to monitor key trends in your ad’s performance. Understanding your average daily, weekly and monthly click volume can help you spot sudden, significant changes in click volume, which might be an indication of invalid clicks.

Some key performance statistics to monitor include:
  • Clicks: The number of times an ad was clicked.
  • Click-through rate: The number of times an ad was clicked, divided by the number of impressions.
  • Conversion rate: The number of conversions, divided by the total number of clicks.
Sudden increases in click volume can be the result of many factors and can often be good for your business. Before you become concerned about an increase in click volume indicating possible fraud, consider if the following might be the cause:
  • Seasonal changes, such as an increase in online shopping during the holidays.
  • Sales, discounts, or promotions that increase visibility and bring extra traffic to your site.
  • Recent news events that stimulate online consumer interest and web traffic.
  • Changes to your ad headings or text, or changes to your website.
  • New links to your website from other sites.
Use conversion tracking
Implementing conversion tracking will allow you to monitor the number of conversions your ads generate.

Although an increase in conversion is typically good news, a sudden change in your conversion rate could also mean an increase in low-quality clicks.

If you suspect you are receiving fake leads, or fake conversions, please contact us and consider adding image text verification like CAPTCHA or use other similar methods of proactively protecting your conversion tracking element. This can help to protect your campaigns from fake conversions and can provide more meaningful performance and ROI insights.

Use web-tracking software
Commercial web-tracking software allows you to monitor website traffic. This software can help you analyze traffic behavior on your site as well as highlight potential low-quality clicks.

Contact Microsoft Advertising Support to report suspected low-quality click activity
If you’ve identified low-quality click activity that Microsoft Advertising has not detected, contact Microsoft Advertising Support. A Microsoft Advertising representative will contact you once they received your inquiry. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, your bill might be adjusted. For more information on our related methods and policies, please see our Description of Methodology.

Adjusting your campaigns
Using reporting, you can understand where high-performing traffic comes from. You can then improve targeting and exclude websites that you don’t want to advertise on.

Here are some ways to adjust where your ads are shown:

Network distribution
  • If you use keyword bidding, search ads can be displayed on Microsoft sites and select traffic, syndicated partner sites, or both. Ad distribution can be set at the ad group level only. See ad placement for more information.
  • To help prevent your ads from showing in specific locations you can alter the targeting options.
  • In the campaign settings tab you can target cities, metro areas, states/provinces and countries/regions.
Blocking websites
  • To prevent specific websites showing your ads you can use the website exclusions options available in the campaign settings tab. Note: any past or future exclusions apply to the syndication network only. For any select partner traffic that you wish to have removed, please reach out to Support.
  • To exclude your ads from an entire domain, enter the URL but leave off the "www" prefix (for example, instead of
IP address blocking
This feature allows you to exclude ads appearing on specific IP addresses. You can also add a range of addresses using a wildcard character.

Understanding where your ads will appear
The ad distribution setting of a campaign or ad group defines where you want your ads to display: on the search network or the content network (or both). Within the Microsoft Search Network, you can choose to have your search ads displayed on Microsoft sites and select traffic, syndicated search partner sites, or both. For more information see Use campaign analytics to track site activity.

Impact to your Microsoft Advertising account

Microsoft Advertising account suspension
If we detect your website has malware, your corresponding Microsoft Advertising account will also be suspended and your ads will no longer serve. To reinstate your account, contact Microsoft Advertising Support who will provide remediation details for your account. Once initiated, this review process can take up to seven business days to complete.

In some cases your website may be free of malware, but your Microsoft Advertising account may have been compromised through a phishing attack or other method. If we detect malicious ads and it appears that the account was compromised, the same suspension will be applied. Microsoft Advertising Customer Service will guide you through remediation and securing your account in this scenario as well.

Willful violation of Microsoft Advertising policy
We expect all advertisers to adhere to all Microsoft Advertising policies including Microsoft Advertising user safety and privacy guidelines. If we detect willful violation of these policies, action may be taken up to and including:
  • Ad rejection: Your flagged ads will not serve until you fix the detected issue.
  • Domain rejection: If your website is determined to consistently violate Microsoft Advertising policy, it may be blocked from use.
  • Account closure: Your Microsoft Advertising account will remain suspended indefinitely.
User safety

It’s important to protect yourself from the wide variety of threats found online that can lead to poor system performance, information loss, identity theft and other serious problems. Malicious websites don’t always look or act the same, and even reputable websites are sometimes compromised by attackers to deliver malware or host phishing sites unknowingly.

Protecting yourself from malware can help prevent losing control of your Microsoft Advertising account through account hijacking or password stealing. Keeping your website software platform or content management system updated will help to defend against common vulnerabilities and exploits that would otherwise leave your website vulnerable to malware injection and unknowingly becoming a malware distributor yourself.

Please see advertiser resources for more information on how malware can affect your Microsoft Advertising account.

What is malware?
Malware comes in many forms and is distributed with many different purposes. Common risks with a malware infection can include:

  • Spyware: monitors and reports on your activities
  • Viruses and worms: can perform many functions including stealing usernames and passwords and controlling your computer to perform tasks such as click-fraud, DDOS attacks or bitcoin mining
  • Trojan horses: used to later install other malicious software
  • Scareware and ransomware: both designed to extract payment from you to resolve an issue that is caused by the malware itself (or is at times completely non-existent)

For more help with a specific malware problem, we suggest visiting the Microsoft Malware Protection Center.

Malware on Microsoft Advertising
Microsoft Advertising is constantly on the lookout for malware being distributed through our ad network, and action is taken swiftly to assure the safety of our users when malware is detected. These detections happen through numerous channels as we work with many authorities to ensure comprehensive coverage of the network.

My website has malware — what happened?
You may notice your website has ads, popups or other content that you did not create. Your website could also be serving malware unknowingly and without any obvious signs. There are a number of ways this can happen:

  • Security vulnerabilities in content management systems and their related plugins
  • Installing templates, plugins, and other types of code from an untrusted source
  • Hacked/phished credentials which are used to infect your website

These are just a few examples of how your site may have been compromised. The internet and technology is ever-changing, and the ways in which a site can be infected change along with them.

Identifying and avoiding malware
A key to avoiding malware is being able to identify common sources and deceptive behaviors. It is not always easy, but here are some examples where having an informed awareness of common malware practices could save you potential headache later.

Downloads: When visiting an unfamiliar webpage that offers a download, be sure to check the source of the software. If there is any doubt of the legitimacy or need of the offered software, research online to see if there is any reputation or history. Also pay special attention to downloads that do not appear to belong to the site you are visiting. For example, if you have Adobe Flash Player installed and you see a prompt from “” to download an update, take special note that the website asking you to download the file is not “,” the software author’s website. Also be aware of similar looking or misspelled domain names claiming to be the authoritative source when in reality they are not related.

Emails and instant messages: Be wary of any incoming communication that has attachments, even if it appears to be from a person or business you know. Antivirus and antimalware software such as Microsoft Security Essentials is useful for scanning any incoming attachments. Be especially cautious of clicking on any links contained in messages, and always take note of the actual URL that link takes you to before entering any sensitive information such as login details or payment information.

Other sources: Many sites will offer downloads that are not malicious, but may be combined with other software that is malicious, or may just be unwanted. When installing software be sure to read any details and options in the installer to ensure you do not accidentally agree to install additional unwanted software. Like any other download, if you are unsure whether or not you would want the software, or are unfamiliar with what it does, research it before agreeing to install.