Search Engine Marketing
How Microsoft Ads can add value to your SEM strategy
When it comes to pay-per-click advertising, it would be wrong to assume that Google was the only platform on that front. Bing may not have developed into the competitive force in the search engine market that Microsoft hoped for when it launched in 2009, but it is clear that they are determined to persevere with its development. Of course, given Google has over 90% market share, it would be ludicrous to suggest that your PPC strategy should not center around Google, but could a Microsoft Ads campaign on Bing add increased value to your SEM campaigns?
The good news is that the core concepts and principles behind Google Ads and Microsoft Ads are nearly identical. So you do not have to worry about relearning or understanding an entirely new method of PPC advertising. Visually, ads on both Google and Bing look very similar. Both offer access to search partner networks, and both have identical ad tree structures (Campaigns – Ad Groups – Ads). There are, however, differences in the specific tools available on each platform. Naturally, where there are differences, there are opportunities to leverage or maximize your PPC strategy to improve your visibility on both networks.
So, what additional benefits can your business realize by being visible on Bing?
- Increased flexibility at Ad Group level – Microsoft Ads offers the ability to make adjustments at the Ad Group level for aspects such as different time zones, location, language, and ad rotation. In contrast, Google Ads only allows those adjustments at the campaign level.
- Precision device targeting – while Google Ads can effectively adapt your ads to optimize performance on different devices, Bings gives the increased ability to specifically target devices and operating systems and offer the option of running mobile-only ads.
- Search partner networks – Both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads offer access to extensive additional networks of partner sites where your ad can appear. Depending on campaign performance, you can add or remove your presence on these networks very quickly, but with Google, you can only choose to appear on all search partner sites or none at all. Microsoft Ads offers more flexibility by allowing you to select any of the following: all search networks, only owned and operated networks (Bing, Yahoo!, AOL), or only syndicated search partner sites. In addition, Bing offers more transparency for advertisers to handle traffic distribution more precisely.
- Additional In-market Audience categories – Both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads offer to target the most interested customers in the market. However, each ad platform has different categories, which means that by being across both, there is a potential of reaching a more diverse audience.
- Lower CPC – Undoubtedly, Google has a far superior reach to Bing. However, the flipside is that there is increased competition in keyword bidding, which drives up the price you pay for clicks and conversions. That means that you can add a Bing dimension to your CPC strategy for a relatively small outlay compared to Google.
In summary: Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape. Google is currently the dominant search engine in the market. But having a presence on Bing brings additional business benefits. In addition, Bing campaigns diversify the risk of any potential seismic shifts in the search engine terrain.
Bing is also continually evolving to enhance user experience. For example, last month, Microsoft announced several new exciting features that reinforce the view that they continue to do their utmost to develop Bing into the most effective platform it can be. For example:
- Flyer extensions – A feature unique to Microsoft Ads, advertisers will now be able to add flyers to their ads, increasing the visibility of your products to encourage increased engagement.
- New in-market audiences – As outlined above, both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads offer to target specific categories of in-market audiences. However, each platform possesses categories that the other doesn’t, providing opportunities for different targeted ads across both platforms. Additionally, Microsoft has announced that they will be introducing more than 60 new audiences to this feature, including seasonal options.
- Price comparison beta – A new addition to Microsoft’s shopping campaigns is price comparison on the Microsoft Edge browser. These appear as a flyout panel where users, by default, see relevant products but can manually save selected ones to the display when browsing the site of a competing retailer.
- New ad units – Microsoft Ads had recently expanded their ad unit options tailored to maximize the engagement rate of ads for specific types of products and services. For example, they released their automotive ads earlier this year that presented the opportunity for car dealers to showcase the specs of their inventory alongside text ads. Microsoft has reported these new units have resulted in increased CTR and conversion and lower CPC for advertisers. Similarly, Microsoft has now launched Property Promotion Ads and Tours & Activities Ads. Property Promotion ads are displayed on the Hotels grid on Bing maps, whereas Tour & Activities ads can appear on Bing’s SERP, Bing Maps, and the Bing Travel Guide.
The purpose of this article is not to propose the replacement of Google Ads with Microsoft Ads but rather to use Bing to compliment your existing CPC campaigns on Google. Microsoft Ads can import your Google Ads campaigns to Bing. Importing allows you to leverage your Google Ads campaign to initialize a new Bing campaign and then tweak it to utilize the unique features of Bing.
With lower CPC and an ever-expanding geographical reach, adding a Bing dimension to your SEM strategy could allow your business to connect to new audiences for a relatively small outlay.