Once you have your Google paid search strategy in place, you can wipe your hands on your pants and call it a day, right? Not quite. Google Ads is going to be a big part of any paid search strategy, but they are far from the only game in town. Microsoft Advertising’s Bing is the #2 search engine, with a global market share that fluctuates around 7% of the desktop search market share and 25% when you include Yahoo, which is also powered by Bing. If you’re neglecting Microsoft Advertising, you’re missing out on the eyeballs of about 500 million users conducting over 12 billion searches per month.
If your PPC strategy is Google-only, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s what’s new with Microsoft Advertising and four reasons you need to use it for your paid search advertising.
Microsoft Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform that allows businesses to place ads on the Bing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and its partner sites. It also allows for ads to be posted on its owned properties like MSN, Outlook.com, and even LinkedIn. It’s quite the powerful tool, and is giving Google a run for its money, since it’s helping businesses reach their target audiences, and drive more traffic and conversions to their website.
Microsoft has been trying to woo more marketers to the Bing network for years, and it’s been ramping up those efforts. In May 2019, Microsoft unveiled the re-branded Microsoft Advertising service, formerly known as Bing Ads, which provides PPC advertising on the Bing and Yahoo search engines. The move was not just a name change; Microsoft also has been busy evolving the service, developing and releasing new ads features and capabilities that offer marketers compelling reasons to use it for their PPC campaigns.
Below are 6 key features from Microsoft Advertising that you won’t find anywhere else:
Even a small tweak can make a big difference in a PPC campaign’s effectiveness. To make it easier for marketers to identify what types of changes to make, and to institute changes with confidence, Microsoft Advertising now offers experiments. These are duplicate versions of campaigns that let you monitor a change in a controlled environment without launching it across your whole campaign. So, you can run an A/B test right within a campaign, experimenting with everything from ad copy to landing page URLs.
Google Ads has offered ad customizers for years. And now, Microsoft Advertising service customers can also use ad customizers to dynamically create hundreds of different ad variations from one set of ad copy. The twist with Microsoft Advertising’s ad customizers is that you can apply them by audience — which is something Google Ads doesn’t offer. You can also customize ads by keyword, location, ad group, or campaign. Other targeting options include device, search queries, and time of day.
Formerly known as “share of voice,” prominence metrics from Microsoft Advertising are position-based impression share metrics. They’re designed to help you understand precisely where your ads are appearing on search result pages so you can optimize bids and drive better campaign performance. Prominence metrics include top impression share, top share lost to rank, absolute top impression share, and absolute top impression share lost to budget. These metrics are similar to what Google introduced to its Google Ads users last fall; one key difference is that Microsoft Advertising is keeping average position reporting, which Google is sunsetting.
The Microsoft Advertising integration with LinkedIn allows marketers to target users based on their job title and company. This integration offers a powerful new tool for account-based marketing (ABM) efforts and can help improve targeting and audience segmentation. By pulling in LinkedIn data, Microsoft Advertising can help advertisers reach their target audience more effectively. For example, an advertiser promoting B2B software might use LinkedIn data to target users who work in IT or who hold a certain job title, such as "CTO" or "CIO." This can help ensure that their ads are seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in their product or service. This level of targeting can be especially valuable for ABM efforts, where advertisers focus on targeting a specific set of accounts or prospects.
Microsoft Advertising allows advertisers to include videos in their search ads on Bing. These video extensions offer a powerful new way to engage potential customers and make your ads stand out from the competition. With video extensions, advertisers can create eye-catching and dynamic content that showcases their products or services in a more immersive way than the snooze fests that are static images or text alone. By adding video extensions to your ads, you can grab users' attention and increase the likelihood that they will click through to your website. Videos are also inclusive to those who may have disabilities since they can also include audio and/or closed captioning. Overall, video extensions are a great new tool for businesses looking to drive engagement and conversions through their search advertising efforts.
Microsoft integrated ChatGPT with Bing earlier this year, and it’s allowed Bing users to answer search queries in a more natural and conversational way. For example, if you ask "What is the weather in San Francisco today?", Bing will not only provide you with the weather forecast, but it may also tell you to bring a hoodie because it’s usually cold there no matter the time of year. It’s still too early to say how Bing's ChatGPT integration will impact paid ads; however, it is possible that it could lead to an increase in the effectiveness of paid ads because ChatGPT can be used to create more targeted and relevant ads. Overall, the integration of ChatGPT with Bing is a positive development for Microsoft since the launch of ChatGPT has made some major headlines.
There are several advantages of using Microsoft Ads as a part of your PPC strategy, as it allows you to reach new audiences — often at lower costs. Learn the top 3 advantages of using Microsoft Advertising below:
It’s easy to assume that a search engine is a search engine. But think for a second—how many search engines do you use? Besides those that switch to DuckDuckGo to evade the tracking bots for more, uh, interesting searches, most of us are pretty loyal to one search platform. “Most searchers do not switch search engines, so the ones you reach through Bing/Yahoo are unique from the audience on Google,” said Hanapin Marketing Account Manager Stephanie White. “So, if you are advertising on both engines you have the opportunity to reach the greatest number of unique searchers.”
Since Bing is the default search engine on Microsoft-powered PCs, you would assume that less advanced users who are unlikely to go around changing default settings are going to make up the bulk of Bing users. This is probably a safe assumption, but this doesn’t mean that they are less valuable customers than you reach through Google.
According to Microsoft, Bing users are indeed older, with over 70 percent between 35-65 years of age. But they are also more affluent and tend to spend more money online than their Google counterparts. A full third of the Bing audience has a $100K+ household income, and its users spend on average 22 percent more than the average internet searcher. On top of that, Microsoft claims that there’s at least 66 million users that you just won’t reach on Google at all.
It’s no secret that Google CPCs aren’t getting any lower. Ever increasing competitiveness for search terms mean higher prices, and that isn’t likely to change much. While you are attracting a different audience with the Microsoft Ad network, you will also welcome significantly lower CPCs on competitive search terms. And we’re not talking peanuts here—the average cost-per-click on Microsoft Advertising can be up to 70 percent lower than AdWords. According to a Search Engine People study, in the automotive industry, CPCs were 32.5 percent lower than Google, and in the insurance industry, that number jumps to 59 percent.
Thankfully, this isn’t one of those “you get what you pay for” situations, either. In an account example cited by Hanapin Marketing where the total spend in Bing made up 12% of the total ad spend for the year, the resulting ROAS were significantly higher in Bing at 487% compared to Google at 334%.
When you advertise on Bing, you’re getting a three-fer: your ads also appear on Yahoo and AOL ad networks. This opens up your campaigns to searchers across all Bing, Yahoo, and AOL owned and operated sites, as well as all their partner sites like Amazon, Wall Street Journal, CBS Interactive, and more when you opt-in to syndicated search. Of course, you can advertise on the same Google partner sites when you use Google Ads, so this isn’t exactly unique, but again, by reaching out to Yahoo and AOL, you are going to be able to net audiences that do not use Google search. If your customer demographic tends to be older and less tech-savvy, you absolutely need to take advantage of this.
Google casts a pretty large shadow as the number one search engine. They have a lot of catching up to do but they’re using the right strategies to close the gap. Here are some disadvantages to keep in mind if you decide to utilize Microsoft Ads:
If you already use Google Ads (which, if you are a living, breathing digital marketer, you are) it’s pretty simple to ramp up with Microsoft Ads and Bing. Microsoft Advertising allows you to import existing campaigns directly from Google Ads. And Automated Imports to enable you to synchronize Google campaigns with their Microsoft Ads counterparts on a recurring basis.
Microsoft Advertising is an ad platform with rising potential. It’s ripe with opportunity for marketers to identify and reach even more customers than they might if they focus on Google Ads alone. Marketers using Invoca are also well-positioned to drive conversions on Bing. By using Invoca’s integration with Microsoft Advertising, they can measure and attribute conversions happening over the phone to search ads served across sites within the Bing Network, including Yahoo and AOL.
And that brings us to the final point: these are all great reasons to use Bing and the Microsoft Advertising network, but it won’t and can’t replace advertising with Google. With a solid majority of the search market under its enormous wings, you’re going to reach most of your customers advertising with the Big G. But that’s no reason to miss out on a huge opportunity and untapped audiences waiting for you on Bing, too.
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