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Written by Caroline Cox on May 7 , 2021

It’s not Google, but it’s bigger and more powerful than you think.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How Microsoft Advertising’s paid search ads work
  • How the platform stacks up against Google
  • What makes Microsoft Ads unique
  • The benefits of leveraging both platforms

Spring is the time for new beginnings. That’s why spring-cleaning became “a thing” — there’s no better season to refresh your surroundings. The same can also be said for your brand’s paid search (or PPC) marketing strategy.

In the spring of 2019, Bing Ads rebranded to Microsoft Advertising. (Bing is Microsoft’s search engine — its own version of Google.) And with the rebranding came a larger emphasis on things like AI and personalization, as Search Engine Land noted.

Here’s a look at what Microsoft Advertising has to offer, whether you’re interested in leveraging the platform in your paid search initiatives or just want to know more about how it stacks up against Google.

Microsoft Advertising 101: What You Need to Know

Like Google Ads, Microsoft also has an offline editor desktop application for bulk changes and updates. (Image via Unsplash)

Getting started with Microsoft Advertising

The Microsoft Search Network reportedly reaches 7.3 billion monthly searches. (Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”) Its search ad options allow businesses to target those searching on the Bing, Yahoo, and AOL platforms. This gives Microsoft Advertising a combined 33% of the total U.S. search market share — even higher for desktop searches. Microsoft Ads also give you access to 63 million search users that can’t be reached via Google Ads.

Microsoft Advertising offers its customers opportunities for training certifications and expert webcasts, along with in-depth audience and marketplace insights.

Signing up for a Microsoft Ads account is free, and they’ve made the process pretty seamless. You create your ad with text, a URL, and extensions (which can include images, reviews, and the like). Next, determine your ad bid, budget, and keywords you want to target.

From there, track your performance, conversion rates, and goals, then iterate as needed.

Pro tip: Microsoft’s conversion tracking is set up using a Universal Event Tracking (UET) pixel to collect data for conversion tracking and retargeting, similar to the Google Ads global site tag setup.

Google Ads vs. Microsoft Ads

Both Google and Microsoft offer paid search ads that can work on multiple devices and allow you to choose your reach — from a small radius around your brick-and-mortar location (if you have one) to a global scale. They also both have ad extensions, feed-based ads, and shopping campaign options.

Like Google Ads, Microsoft also has an offline editor desktop application for bulk changes and updates. (Amazon Advertising, as well as social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, don’t have these, which can make setup more difficult.)

It’s understandable that Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising have plenty in common. They both aim to serve relevant ads to searchers using their platforms, help businesses attract the right prospects, and ultimately get them more leads. But there are a few key differences between these platforms that are worth noting.

Ready to explore more paid search opportunities for your business? Let’s talk.

The Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising networks both cover PPC as well as display ads. While the Microsoft Advertising display network is smaller, covering only their own consumer properties such as Xbox, MSN, Windows OS, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook, it does reach nearly a billion unique monthly users based on the total reach of each platform. Plus, those channels have some of the highest visibility scores industry-wide.

The two platforms also use slightly different terminology in some areas. For instance, while Google refers to both cost of conversion and cost per acquisition (CPA), Microsoft sticks to CPA. While Google refers to ad headings as “headlines,” Microsoft Advertising calls them “titles.”

In the fall of 2019, Google announced they were sunsetting its “Average Position” metric. (This shows your ad’s position in relation to other ads on the search engine results page, or SERP.) The metric is still available from Microsoft.

Pro tip: Both Google and Bing allow for up to 90 characters in their ad description fields.

HawkSEM - Microsoft Advertising 101: What You Need to Know

Got a winning Google campaign? Then you’ll probably see success on Bing too. Why not do both? (Image via Unsplash)

What makes Microsoft Ads unique

A key stat that might interest companies: Microsoft Search Network visitors spend approximately 30% more money online than the average web searcher. Not only that, but more than half of searchers have an estimated income of $75,000 or more, with generally higher household incomes and more high-level jobs than Google overall.

While Microsoft searches account for just over a third of all desktop searches, brands are likely to find their paid search ads have less competition than they do on Google. Plus, Microsoft Ads can cost up to 70% less than Google Ads.

Microsoft recently rolled out a new feature that will automatically create new variations of your existing ads and apply the suggestions for you. This is a bit controversial, but you can opt out in your settings if you choose. They also recently introduced automotive ads (still in beta) in the U.S and U.K.

Plus, the ad platform uses LinkedIn data to target groups of users based on information in their professional profiles. This is especially appealing to B2B brands looking to target those with specific job titles.

Microsoft Advertising has robust targeting options. Its user intent targeting includes:

  • Remarketing
  • In-market audiences
  • Custom audiences
  • Product audiences
  • Similar audiences

Other targeting types include:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • Age & gender
  • Location
  • Device

Pro tip: Fit Small Business reports that Bing (Microsoft Advertising) specializes in targeting the retail and financial industries, which makes the search engine an ideal marketing option for brands in these niches.

Benefits of using both Google and Microsoft ads

Got a winning Google campaign? Then you’ll probably see success on Bing too. Why not do both?

Microsoft makes it easy to import your Google campaigns onto its own search platform. Not only can this increase your exposure, but you may find a promising Google search campaign does even better on Bing. Plus, you can now schedule imports on a recurring basis, so you can optimize in Google and carry the changes to Microsoft without doing double the work.

If you’re in a particularly saturated market or find yourself having trouble sourcing quality leads on Google, Bing could be the answer you’re looking for. Companies that are scraping the corners of Google trying to think of new keywords and ads to get new leads are the ones that often find that carrying over their branded ads to Bing results in more leads.

In April 2021, Microsoft rolled out a bevy of new features, including the global release of API support for Google Import, countdown customizers for RSAs, 60 new in-market audiences and more, according to Search Engine Journal.

Pro tip: In May 2021, Microsoft announced that they’d begin to “expand phrase match to include broad match modifier [BMM] traffic,” according to Search Engine Land. They also report that “advertisers will no longer have the ability to create new BMM keywords beginning in August 2021.”

The takeaway

The Google brand is basically synonymous with online searching, especially in the United States. But there are plenty of additional opportunities for reach, leads, and sales to be had from the Microsoft side of searches as well.

Particularly when it comes to exclusive partners, cheaper clicks, and getting an edge in a competitive industry, you may be surprised at the paid search results you get outside of Google’s platform. 

After all, your competitors are probably on Google, but they may not be on Bing. There’s certainly something to be said for being a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 7 , 2020

Maximize your online reach with Bing and capture traffic you might miss with Google.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits of advertising on both Google and Microsoft’s Bing
  • How the Microsoft Ads platform compares to Google Ads
  • How to create top-quality ads for Bing
  • The importance of checking your Quality Score

Many businesses raise an eyebrow when first introduced to the idea of using Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) to attract new customers. But you might be surprised to learn that all that the Bing search engine has to offer. 

A recent ComScore report from 2019 found that 126 million unique users were behind around 6 billion Bing searches in March of that year alone. If you want to capture the millions of users out there who use Bing, it’s necessary to explore Microsoft Advertising in addition to Google Ads.

Bing homepage

To make your job easier, Bing Ads allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. (Image via Bing)

Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

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, with the goal of using targeted marketing to help attract more high-quality leads who are more likely to make a purchase. However, there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.

One notable difference is that, while Google Ads has a balanced network of both PPC  (or paid search) and display ads, Bing has a much more limited display ad network that’s relegated to Microsoft-owned products including Windows operating systems, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Xbox.

You may also find that each platform uses different language to describe their functions and metrics. For example, Google tends to use cost per acquisition (CPA) along with the cost of conversion, while Microsoft Ads only uses the term CPA. 

Using both platforms can provide a noticeable boost to your marketing campaigns. However, it’s important to know how to use Microsoft Ads properly if you want to make the most of it and effectively supplement your Google Ads campaign. Below, we’ve laid out some best practices to help you create winning ads that attract the ideal customer on Bing. 

1. Make sure all high-performing Google Ads campaigns are imported to Microsoft Ads

To make your job easier, Microsoft Advertising allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. Simply use the import feature to bring your campaigns over to Microsoft’s ad platform. 

While you can test your most successful Google Ads campaigns using Bing, keep in mind that things may look and work a little differently when creating your ads on Microsoft. Knowing the subtle differences when importing can help you transition from one platform to the other and use both to your advantage.

Bing SERP

A smaller budget could take you much farther on Bing than it would with Google. (Image via Bing)

2. Create high-quality copy and images for your ads

You should always optimize your ads for people, 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 a certain element of your product, service, or brand in your images
  • Create ads using high-quality images without degradation or pixelation
  • Use images of people without accompanying text or logos
  • Keep your ads clean and simple without overwhelming the user
  • Avoid long ad headlines and stick to concise, easy-to-read phrases

3. Start broad and specify your audience based on the results

To pinpoint the ideal audience, it’s a good idea to begin with a broad ad campaign that targets as many users as possible without going over your available budget. From there, you can begin to narrow down your audience based on the demographics and other traits of users that 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 help you perform well on Bing. Thanks largely to the lighter competition you’ll find on Bing, you could discover that a smaller budget takes you much farther on the platform than it would with Google.

You’re also likely to find less expensive CPAs with Microsoft Ads while targeting potentially 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 if Bing is their default search engine. 

While you may think this means your audience is potentially less tech savvy, know that many of these users have accumulated more wealth and are willing to spend more money online than their younger counterparts. The fact that your audience on Bing is likely different from your Google audience only further emphasizes the importance of using both.

Microsoft Advertising

Using a combination of Bing Ads and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. (Image via Microsoft Advertising)

6. Make use of the UET tag

Microsoft Ads enables you to set up customized event and conversion actions using Universal Event Tracking (UET). With the help of this tool, you can create custom audiences as people perform certain actions. 

For example, you might create an audience that spends a certain amount of time on landing pages or visits only a few other pages before leaving your website after clicking on an ad. With a better understanding of user behavior through UET tags, you can cater campaigns to specific individuals to improve your campaigns’ overall performance.

7. Keep an eye on your Quality Score

One key component of a successful Bing campaign is page or domain authority, which will help gauge the authoritativeness and popularity of a website. 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. 

The Quality Score ranges from 1 to 10, with the best score being 10. If you notice that your Quality Score is suffering, try to adjust your ads by:

  • Conducting more keyword research
  • Ensuring your published content is always high-quality
  • Optimizing your landing pages
  • Checking your ad group targeting

The takeaway

Using a combination of Microsoft Ads and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. 

Using these best practices, taking the time to develop high-quality ad campaigns, and understanding your target audience on Bing can help you craft ads that are highly effective, no matter the search engine. 

Want to get the most from your PPC campaigns with Bing and other opportunities? Connect with us today.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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