These days, it’s easy to disregard any search network that isn’t Google. Who uses Yahoo,Ask.com, or Bing, anyway?
The answer may surprise you.
It’s true that Google owns the market share in the U.S., accounting for more than75% of search traffic. We’re talking billions of eyes on your ads.
But while it’s tempting to instinctively jump to Google search alone, you could miss out on all that other search engines like Bing have to offer as advertising platforms.
Bing (Microsoft Ads) opens up doors to new audiences, meaning you’ll expand your pool of potential customers in your search engine marketing efforts.
If you’re ready to cast a wider net, we’ll teach you how Microsoft Advertising can benefit your marketing campaign, plus best practices and tips to maximize ad potential.
Why use Microsoft ad campaigns?
The case for Google Ads is clear, but why not add another 1.2 billion users and monthly searches to your audience? That’s right, Bing attracts 1.2 billion users per month worldwide. You wouldn’t say no to more social media followers, right?
The numbers continue to grow as Microsoft Advertising expands to 32 new countries in Asia and Latin America. Plus, Microsoft’s search engine closely seconds Google in U.S. search engine user satisfaction, only behind by eight points on a hundred-point scale (71 for Bing, 79 for Google).
Bottom line? Your marketing strategy needs Bing ads.
Reason #1: You’ll expand your reach to new audiences.
Reason #2: You’ll convert them, too.
Keep reading for a side-to-side comparison of Microsoft vs. Google Ads.
To make your job easier, Microsoft Ads allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. (Image: Bing)
Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads: A complete comparison
Of course, there are plenty of similarities to be found between Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, which show up on the Bing search engine.
They’re both used to push highly relevant ads to users who are most likely to make a purchase. However, there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.
Both Microsoft and Google Ads connect your product or service with target audiences. But each one differs in its audience, targeting settings, and analytics.
Google has the widest audience and search volume — everyone hangs out there. Correction: almost everyone.
But you should be aware of people you won’t find on Bing. For example, if you’re interested in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community, Bing probably won’t reach them. Only 2% of Bing data searchers identified as LGBTQ+.
Additionally, younger users are more likely to use Google Suite tools before Microsoft and Bing. OurSEM manager, Katherine Kiraly, elaborates:
“I think the reason Bing users are older is that they are using Microsoft Edge on their work computers in corporate professional settings. These people use the entire Microsoft suite from Teams to Outlook. Younger audiences at smaller companies use the G-Suite (Chrome, Gmail, etc).”
While Google Ads has a balanced network of both search and display ads, Bing has a much more limited display ad network. Bing’s network is relegated to Microsoft-owned products, including Windows operating systems, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Xbox.
Terms: You may also find that each platform uses a different language to describe its functions and metrics. For example, Google tends to use cost per acquisition (CPA) along with the cost of conversion, while Microsoft Adsonly uses the term CPA.
Cost Per Click (CPC): Microsoft’s average CPC for Bing ad accounts is generally lower at $0.84; Google doesn’t advertise a figure but experts cite Google’s CPC as between $1-$2. You can predict Google’s average CPC depending on your industry with their handy Keyword Planner.
Click-Through Rate (CTR): Google’s overall CTR is 3.17%, with higher (and lower) rates in specific industries. Kiraly elaborates:
“I see higher CTRs across the board in Google while in Bing it’s very keyword-dependent, so the overall CTR for a Bing account is usually much lower than its Google counterpart.”
Google Ads uses your time zone to schedule ads, while Microsoft Ads uses the ad viewer’s time zone.
Search partner targeting
Both Google and Microsoft Ads let you place your ads beyond the search engine results page (SERP). However, the way you select partner networks is different. Google gives you a choice to expand to these networks, while Bing allows you to target Bing and Yahoo, just search partners, or both.
Close search variants
Google uses close search variants of keywords by default. Microsoft Ads allows this as an option.
The two platforms boast different strengths, but we propose you use both of them.As long as you have a solid PPC strategy and ConversionIQ on your side, you can’t go wrong.
Next, let’s dig into some best practices that’ll help you create winning ads to attract the ideal Bing searcher.
1. Import high-performing Google Ads campaigns to Microsoft Ads
To make your job easier, Microsoft Advertising allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. Simply use the import feature to carry your PPC campaigns over to Microsoft’s ad platform.
While you can test your most successful Google Ads campaigns using Bing, keep in mind things may look and work a little different on each platform.
Our advice? Don’t go live right away. First, carefully examine each of these items after importing.
Bids and budgets: Microsoft automatically increases Google’s bids and budgets to meet their minimums.
Negative keywords:Microsoft only uses exact match negative keywords, not broad match.
Targeting options: Microsoft doesn’t include select targeting options (more on this later).
As you make adjustments to your Google Ads campaign, you can apply them to the Bing Ads campaign through import. The result? A lower-cost campaign with a more focused audience.
Remarketing lists: You can’t import in-marketing audiences, combined lists (NOT conditions), or customer lists.
Age targeting: You can’t import Google’s 45-54 age group to Microsoft.
Exact location targeting: Microsoft doesn’t support some smaller city targets that Google Ads include.
You can import changes to the Microsoft Ads campaign on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
And if your Google campaigns have solid CTR and Quality Scores?
“Bing copycats Google, so if you have good CTR and Quality Scores in Google it’s a safe bet to import those campaigns into Bing.” says Kiraly. “There is less ad inventory on Bing but it’s also much less expensive (like 1/3rd less)”
A smaller budget could take you much farther on Bing than it would with Google. (Image: Bing)
2. Create high-quality ad copy and images
Like search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, ad optimization is all about creating ads that appeal to your target audience — not search engines.
Keywords are important, but you’re ultimately creating ads to appeal directly to your target audience. With this goal in mind, try to:
Use on-brand colors that attract attention
Highlight product, service, or brand elements through images
Create ads using high-quality images without pixelation
Use images of people without accompanying text or logos
Keep ads clean and simple so you don’t overwhelm the user
Avoid lengthy headlines — stick to concise, easy-to-read phrases
3. Start broad and narrow your audience based on results
Your dream audience is the rich, chocolate fudge hiding within a Ferrero Rocher shell — but the pièce de résistance is the sweet spot in the middle.
Your strategy should similarly zoom in on the sweet spot that is your target audience. To do that, start with a broad ad campaign that targets as many users as possible without going over your available budget.
From there, you can narrow down your audience based on demographics and other traits of users who are likely to click on your ads.
In the process, you can create more valuable ads that target the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service offerings.
4. Make the most of your budget
Even if you’ve maxed out your Google Ads budget, you can still tailor your budget to perform well on Bing.
Thanks largely to Bing’s lighter competition, a smaller budget can take you much farther than it would with Google.
You’re also likely to find less expensive costs per acquisition (CPAs) with Microsoft Ads while targeting millions of daily search engine users.
5. Know your target audience on Bing
You might find that your Bing audience is different from your Google audience. If so, you should tailor your campaign audiences accordingly. Bing’s demographic tends to include older users who aren’t as quick to go to Google search if Bing is their default search engine.
Your Bing audience is potentially less tech-savvy. However, they make more money than the average Google searcher and will spend more online. They have accumulated more wealth and are willing to spend more money online than their younger counterparts.
Bing is a great place to promote any of your more expensive offerings — costly add-ons that provide more value are more likely to convert Bing’s audience because of their higher budget.
The differences between your Bing and Google audiences further emphasize the importance of using both.
Using a combination of Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. (Image: Microsoft Advertising)
6. Optimize the UET tag
Microsoft Ads allows you to set up customized event and conversion actions using Universal Event Tracking (UET). It helps you record visitor activity on your site, powering conversion tracking, automated bid strategies, and audience segmentation.
The result? You can:
Create custom audiences for remarketing
Improve ad performance
Lower CPC and CPA
For example, you might notice two distinct audiences on your website: one that abandons your site quickly after one click, and another that lingers, browses and may have already purchased a product in the past.
UET tags help you cater campaigns to specific audiences and improve campaign performance.
7. Keep an eye on your Quality Score
Page or domain authority is a key component of a successful Bing campaign. That’s because it gauges a website’s authoritativeness and popularity.
You can use Bing’s Quality Score metric to determine how much influence your website has on the search engine, which can help you determine your ads’ competitiveness.
“Quality Scores seem to be higher in Bing and easier to get than in Google. I think if your Quality Score is above 6/10 in Google it will probably be higher in Bing so you can import those ads easily. Also, you can see QS at the ad group level and keyword level in Bing but only by keywords in Google.”
The Quality Score ranges from 1 to 10, with the best score being 10. You can improve your Quality Score by:
Optimizing your landing pages: Check to ensure your landing page has completely original content and a quick load time. It should also be extremely relevant to ad keywords and buyer intent.
Checking your ad group targeting: You can target ads based on location, day of the week, time of day, device, gender, and age with Microsoft. Plus, you can adjust bids accordingly to up your display chances for your targets.
8. Take advantage of in-market audiences
Similar to Google Ads, Microsoft Ads offers marketers an intent-based targeting feature that brings the campaign to conversion-ready audiences. Bing uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create lists of users who have shown interest in purchasing items and services similar to yours.
In-market audiences allow you to reach potential buyers without having to run complex targeting campaigns. Not only does this feature save money and help increase conversions, but the setup is easy.
Hang on, isn’t that the same thing as remarketing based on segmentation? Not quite. With remarketing, you’re responsible for creating a new target list, whereas Microsoft generates in-market audiences with AI. You just have to choose from a list.
But that list won’t be the same as Google’s. Microsoft has categories and subcategories to narrow things down even further. For example, “Home & Garden” can expand to “Outdoor Items,” “Pools and Spa,” “BBQ and Grills,” or more.
An overlooked subcategory in Bing is a missed opportunity! Don’t assume they’ll be exactly the same as Google — adjust the settings for each one manually to ensure you capture the most suitable targets.
Note: Microsoft is constantly adding new in-market audience categories. If your industry isn’t there yet, just keep an eye on the updates.
Don’t forget to add captions to the video to improve its accessibility. (Image: Unsplash)
9. Import campaigns from Facebook Ads
Do you have a robust Facebook ad campaign in the mix? Compound the success by importing it directly to Microsoft Advertising. As of summer 2021, you canimport Facebook Ads campaigns to Microsoft. Here’s what’s included:
Just be aware that you can’t import every element of the campaign — you’ll still need to adjust some aspects manually.
Pro tip: Preview all assets, including images, logos, and videos, before allowing your imported Facebook campaign to appear on the Microsoft Audience Network.
10. Explore video extensions
Microsoft Ads allows videos as an extension feature on search ads. Your video will appear next to your ad on the SERP, making it more appealing and engaging to the viewer.
The extension video has a call-to-action (CTA) button that takes the user to the landing page of your choice. Don’t forget to add captions to improve the video’s accessibility.
The cost per click is the same for the video as for the ad, but only for the first click. If the same user clicks to watch the video again, it’s free.
Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads bring unique benefits to your digital marketing strategy, which is why you should take advantage of both. Our list of quick tips will help you optimize your Bing ads for higher conversion rates.
But we understand it’s a lot of info to digest.
You might take a crack and still feel like you need some guidance, and hey, that’s where we come in. Many of our e-commerce and B2B clients (including Microsoft) came to us for support with better leads, revenue, and KPIs.
We have decades of digital marketing experience that informs our process. Additionally, our exclusive ConversionIQ system can help lower CPA by 40%, distinguishing the buyer-intent leads from the tire-kickers.
Let’s revamp your ad strategy together. Contact us today for a consultation!
This post was updated in October 2022 and was originally published in August 2020.
Christina Lyon is an entrepreneur and writer from sunny SoCal. She leads Lyon Content, a tight-knit team of bold creatives, and crafts engaging written content that helps brands sparkle and scale.
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