A report from LegitScript.com and KnujOn was doing the rounds earlier this week which stated that 89.7 percent of Bing's ads for online pharmacies came from illegally operating pharmacies.
Microsoft has finally responded to the claims and said that the report is true, however, it confirmed that the violation percentage is substantially lower than reported number. Microsoft adCenter uses PharmacyChecker.com, an online pharmacy verification service, to verify pharmacy advertisers. PharmacyChecker.com is a competitor of LegitScript.com.
Microsoft says that the illegal pharmacies hacked the system:
“Based on our initial findings, we believe the advertisers noted in the report found a way to work around the PharmacyChecker.com verification process after being validated to advertise on Bing. These rogue advertisers manipulated the system by "hijacking" and/or misusing landing pages. Our internal teams are continuing to investigate how these advertisers sidestepped the policy.”
Meanwhile, adCenter is considering several steps to address this problem. A few of the steps are:
- All pharma-related keywords have now been manually reviewed to sweep out any advertisers who are in violation of adCenter policies
- The editorial team is validating the claims in the report around "hijacking" and misuse of landing pages
- The quality and editorial teams are reviewing adCenter processes to document how these advertisers made their way onto their system. This documentation will likely lead to changes in process as well as product requests moving forward.