Since paid search marketing was first developed in the mid-1990s, Microsoft's Bing Ads have constantly fallen behind Google Ads, due to Google's impressive market share, emphasis on innovation and high-quality product. However, this situation has changed over the past couple of years. Despite the fact that Google Ads still has the biggest market share, Bing has managed slowly but steadily to turn into a giant of paid search.
Bing seems to be one of those platforms that is often underestimated by marketers. This happens for various reasons, from the platform feeling difficult to manage at first as it just feels foreign to what they're used to. During the past few years Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money into turning Bing Ads into one of the main forces in the industry. This has been aided by the fact that Bing's functionality has been significantly improved, mimicking the majority of Ads features. Bing Ads has also made it really easy to transfer campaigns from one platform to the other with their 'import from Ads tool'.
If you've ignored Bing Ads over the years, it might be worth reconsidering as it has become a much less expensive and less competitive marketplace, so be brave and embrace all the opportunities Bing Ads has to offer for your business!
What is Bing's market share?
The Bing Network is growing fast. According to Bing itself, there are more than 15 billion monthly searches worldwide, inclusive of Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL sites. In Europe, 138 million searchers have chosen Bing as their default search engine.
When it comes to the search industry the most reliable source to measure how search engines are performing is comScore's Explicit Core Search Share report. Bing themselves have used comScore to provide us with all the stats that follow. According to the US report from February 2016 (which is the most recent report at the time of writing) Bing have reached a record-breaking 21.4% share on the search engine market. That means that more than 21% of searches on desktop computers in the United States were through Microsoft's search engines (Bing.com or MSN.com). According to a custom report made for Microsoft from June 2016, Bing's U.S. market share increased to 31.3%, with 5 billion monthly searches and 160 million unique users. Bing powers nearly one in three U.S. searches, connecting you with 59 million searchers that can't be reached through Google Ads.
As to the UK market, the Bing Network market share is 20.5%, with 30 million unique searchers and 840 million monthly searches (stats taken from a custom report made for Microsoft from June 2016). Furthermore, there have been twice as many Bing search queries in the UK in the past 18 months meaning one in five searches in the UK are powered by Bing.
Bing is still far from reaching Google's status, however its rapid growth can't go unnoticed. Compared to 2015, search advertising revenue increased 17% primarily driven by growth in Bing, due to higher revenue per search and search volume, according to Microsoft's annual report for 2016.
What are the reasons for Bing's growth?
Even though Google remains the main digital advertising player on the field, quite unnoticeably Bing has turned into a real danger for Google and a huge opportunity for the advertisers out there.
Google will likely dominate for a long time as the dominant search engine of choice. However, Microsoft's aggressive strategy helps improve the company's opportunities to sell ads and to increase the number of web searches.
Bing's secret hides in its integration with other devices. Believe it or not, Siri's searches are powered by Bing, as is Apple's 'Spotlight Search'. Couple this with Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's own wearables, Siri on the Apple watch and Bing surpasses Google on searches on wearable devices. Bing is also integrated into Windows Phones and Microsoft Surface. For instance, right clicking in Word gives you the option to search with Bing. Furthermore, searches in Outlook, Skype and on Xbox are also powered by Bing.
Without a doubt, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge contribute to Bing's growth but perhaps the most crucial contributor is the Cortana search box in the bottom left of the Windows 10 taskbar, which allows you to search across the web and is powered by Bing.
Another essential part of Bing's transformation has been Microsoft's search arrangement with Yahoo, or in other words making Bing the built-in search engine across Yahoo's string of websites. Similarly, Bing is the default way to search the web on AOL websites.
Is Bing worth your money?
Bing Ads still remains a secondary choice. Especially when it comes to mobile, Bing's share remains significantly lower in comparison to that of Google, and given the fact that the number of searches on mobile has overtaken desktop in the last year, Bing might not be your priority if your main audience searches mainly on smartphones or tablets.
However, with its rapid growth and increasing influence on the market, ignoring Bing Ads might not be the right choice for your business. Here are 6 reasons that might change your mind and help you see all the opportunities that Bing has to offer.
1. Importing Ads Campaigns into Bing
For those who believe that Bing is not worth the effort, money and time creating a new campaign, I have some good news. With just a simple click of a button you can import existing Ads campaigns right into the Bing platform. This is an amazing option that allows you to create new Bing Ads campaigns with minimal effort and time. Sounds too good to be true? To be completely honest, it does have some drawbacks but Bing still managed to simplify the transition as much as possible.
When importing your campaigns, some areas require your special attention:
- Multiple language targeting and location targeting – when an Ads campaign has multiple targeting languages, Bing Ads will choose the highest ranked supported language, as in Bing Ads only one language per ad group is supported. Currently not all locations that exist in Ads are supported by Bing. When this happens, Bing will simply use the parent location. Once saved, language and location can't be changed. If you've made a mistake, the campaign has to be recreated.
- Negative keywords - broad match negatives will be imported as phrase match
- Automated rules will need to be recreated in Bing Ads
- CPA (cost-per-acquisition) vs CPC (cost-per-click) bidding - Bing Ads supports only CPC bids so every CPA bids automatically changes to a CPC bid
- Shopping campaigns – Bing Ads shopping campaigns are only available in the Unites States, United Kingdom, France and Germany. Having said that, it is also important to create a Bing Merchant Centre store as you must link your store to the Shopping campaign to be imported.
Bing Ads allows you to reach even more customers and get better results. For instance, nearly 40% of Bing's audience is aged between 35-54 years old, nearly half of Bing's audience is married (44%) or living with a domestic partner (9%), and nearly one-third has a household income of $100,000 and therefore spending 25% more online than other Internet searchers. Bing users are usually more mature, less interested in tech, and the majority come from Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge.
That being said, for you to choose the right ad platform it is essential to know all about your target audience. If your target market is narrower and fits well with Bing's demographics, you could potentially attain a much lower cost-per-lead as Bing Ads would allow you to be more aggressive thanks to the more reasonable costs involved.
3. Google has greater volume, but Bing is more cost-effective
Despite Google's greater share, its average cost-per-click has risen tremendously during the years, and is not getting any cheaper. Bing Ads not only offers much cheaper CPC but also less competition resulting in better ad position and higher CTR, making it a good option for those with a matching target audience for Bing's demographic.
4. Quality Score (QS) is different for Bing Ads than it is for Google Ads
Quality score is a number between 1 and 10 that measures how relevant your keywords, ad content and landing pages are to your user's query. In Ads better quality score leads to higher ad positions on the search results page and lower cost-per-click. In contrast, Bing Ads provides more information about quality score, indicating how competitive your keyword is in the auction but it also doesn't have a direct impact on your ad rank, CPC or positioning. It helps advertisers optimise the quality of their campaigns and is designed to identify campaign opportunities rather than measuring campaign optimisation results enabling Bing Ads to be more transparent in providing broader and deeper insights.
5. Negative Keywords
The importance of negative keywords is as big as the importance of the keywords you're targeting. Both platforms allow you to add negative keywords at the ad group or campaign level, what's different though is the way they are treated once added to a campaign.
Using Bing Ads has an advantage in this case as negative keywords don't have the ability to negate the keywords you're targeting, meaning that even if you add a negative keyword that happens to be included in one of your target keywords, your ads will still show for that word. With Google Ads, in contrast, the negative keyword automatically blocks searches related to that term, even if it relates to a target keyword.
6. Search Partner Targeting
Similar to Google Ads, in Bing Ads you also have the option to serve ads on 'partner sites' but the settings are quite different. With Google Ads, visitors have only two options: to target only Google search or Google search together with search partners, where search partners include hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as Google Video and other Google sites, which are part of the Google Network.
Luckily, Bing Ads gives you more flexibility, allowing you to target just Bing and Yahoo, just search partners, or both. Again, in this instance search partners include all those websites outside of Bing and Yahoo! search, part of the Yahoo! Bing Network. With Bing you can actually see where your search ads appear and if those sites are driving traffic to your business or not.
Google Ads and Bing Ads still remain the two most similar platforms on the market right now and if you've already managed to master Ads, then the transition to Bing will be a piece of cake. Even though Ads still remains to be the leader in paid advertising and people continue to choose Google as their preferred default search engine, Bing Ads has a lot to offer.
Before deciding on which platform to advertise, specify your business objectives and get to know your audience really well. Once you've done that you can then easily measure the possible success of your campaign, and determine whether Bing is the right platform for your business.
Distinction partners with both Bing and Google so in case you need more advice, get in touch. We'd love to help.