Bing Ads is Microsoft’s very own internet marketing service, providing pay per click (PPC) advertising opportunities for online businesses across two of the world’s biggest search engines: Bing and Yahoo.

Recently, Microsoft announced that Bing Ads users would be required to establish Microsoft accounts in order to access Bing Ads. Prior to this point, users weren’t required to have an existing Microsoft account in order to use the Bing PPC ad service. Immediately, cries of complaint were raised. Why the sudden change? In a word: security.

Security, EV Certs, and Simplification

One of the benefits of the merging of Bing Ads with Microsoft accounts is the simplification of the sign-on process – but that is only an issue of convenience. The primary reason for the rollout, as explained by Microsoft, is for the purpose of improving the account security of its users. Following the rollout, Bing Ads users will now be doubly protected by the adoption of Extended Validation SSL certificates – a process that’s widely considered to be the highest security standard for the authentication and identification of web sites. The presence of the EV certificates act to guarantee the security of potentially sensitive transactions. As an additional security buffer, Bing Ads users will eventually be required to navigate a two-step verification process that includes not only a user name and password, but also a security code any time the user logs in from an unrecognized or previously authorized device. This two-step verification has been postponed until mid-2014 to allow older Microsoft account users who no longer have access to the email address and phone number they used to establish their accounts adequate time.

Concerns Over the Timing of the Rollout

While there are few out there who will argue against the need for added security, the timing of Microsoft’s rollout has come into question among many. The fact that the security improvements are being put into place on the eve of the holiday shopping season have stoked the ire of some Bing Ads users who are concerned the change could impact or slow down their ability to log in to their user accounts during the busiest quarter of the year. In order to make the transition easier and to alleviate confusion, Microsoft has published a FAQ to answer user inquiries.

Top Questions and Answers from the Bing Ads FAQ

  • What is a Microsoft account? This is the central ID that enables a user to sign in to a variety of Microsoft services, including Messenger, SkyDrive, and Outlook.com.
  • What’s the timeframe of the changeover? Microsoft has explained that existing Bing Ads customers will be able to put off the creation of Microsoft accounts until the end of the year. New customers will be required to have a Microsoft account as of October 2013 in order to log in to their Bing Ads accounts.
  • How will the change impact multiple users signing in to the same Bing Ads account? Microsoft is requiring that each user sign in using a separate Microsoft account. Users will be invited by a central employee with “Super Admin” privileges. This method will also make it simpler for companies to better monitor change history.

Keeping up with the constantly changing state of PPC advertising – including the changes outlined above – can be a full time job. Understandably, this is not something many small business owners have the time or energy to commit to.

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