Paid Search (PPC)

After testing it out for one of my clients, I recently advised marketers in competitive industries to try out the Display network in Google Adwords as it can produce great results at a fraction of the cost of the Search network. This post is all about using Bing Ads rather than (or as well as) Adwords for precisely the same reason.

Many people may instantly read this, roll their eyes and leave this page. However, please have patience and bear with me. Microsoft are making a tremendous effort to improve the user experience for advertisers using Bing Ads, with new tools and a tonne of cool features due to roll out in the near future.

Why Use Bing Ads?

Their Audience is Growing

On Windows devices, which are still extremely popular, Edge has replaced Internet Explorer as the default browser, offering a much better user experience. It also means that Bing is the default search engine – and many people seem to be leaving it that way. People are also increasingly using the digital assistant Cortana – again, powered by Bing.

Although the search market is undoubtedly dominated by Google, Bing does have a market share of around 19% in the UK (including its partner sites which range from Uber to Siri), and accounts for 769 million UK monthly searches. The US stats are even more impressive, with a whopping 32% market share and 5.5 billion monthly searches.

Less Competition & Cheaper CPCs

In terms of advertising costs, Bing tends to be much cheaper than AdWords. According to WordStream the average CPC is up to 33.5% lower (although for some industries the cost remains similar, such as the gambling industry).

And yet Bing still remains an afterthought for many: this means that if you start advertising on there, you’re likely to have much higher positions for a fraction of the cost.

Let’s take a look at some CPCs, using the example of the employment law sector again, which is very expensive to advertise on in AdWords, as you can see:

AdWords Keyword Planner Costs

And these are the results in Bing Keyword Planer:

Bing Ads Keyword Planner Costs

I cannot deny that there are a lot less monthly searches – however the CPCs are much cheaper (except for the highly competitive term “employment law firm”). With some long tail keyword research, you could create a very cheap but incredibly lucrative campaign, with a much lower cost per lead.

Higher Conversion Rates

According to Microsoft, as their audience is more mature (in terms of age and demographics), 80% of their audience tends to spend more as they have more purchasing power. This leads to increased conversions and ROI for businesses:

Bing Ads Higher Conversion Rate

So for certain industries, particularly those concerning a more mature clientele, Bing could be a tremendous opportunity for marketers. The best bit: unlike on Google AdWords, the Bing advertising market isn’t saturated by companies competing for ad space. I’ve looked into it for a few clients and if I began to advertise on Bing’s shopping network, I’d be the only one doing so, making it even more likely for audiences to choose my clients’ products over theirs.

Bing Ads Features:

Although Bing ads has some catching up to do, which they are doing with a series of updates to become live every month (for instance, they’ve just rolled out an enhanced CPC bid strategy), they do have some great features that AdWords do not have, and that Google haven’t even indicated that they will be including.

More Control at ad group level

In AdWords, settings are put in place at the campaign level: what network you want your ads to display on (search or display for example), the location you want to target, your ad schedule and the campaign language.

With Bing Ads, you can set these up at ad group level – so you can group your campaigns by products or product categories (or just areas on your site) rather than by location or advertising network. This means that you can have one campaign targeting multiple locations, time zones and networks for the same group of products – pretty useful to know where the best traffic comes from for specific areas on you website.

Better demographic targeting

Unlike Adwords, Bing allows you to target demographics through the search network – you can set bid adjustments by gender and age, making your targeting ridiculously specific. This is something that would be incredibly useful in AdWords in order to cut out irrelevant traffic (it certainly helps a lot in the Display Network). Again, this can be done at the campaign or ad group level, again allowing you to conduct a very granular and specifically targeted form of marketing.

Ad extensions

Just like in AdWords, Bing Ads offer ad extensions. Some are the same, but I have to admit that some of Bing’s own extensions are quite exciting:

  • Image extensions: you can upload an image to go next to your ad copy – so if you’re selling red dresses, you could have your best one appear next to your ad! What better way to get people to click on your ads than to show them just how relevant it is to them! This is especially exciting for the hospitality industry, as Instagram has certainly shown us how much people like to look at pictures of food.
  • Video extensions: that’s right, Bing is going to release the option of adding 15-30 video extensions to your campaign. I can imagine that these will help click through rates to sky rocket, particularly in the music, travel and hospitality industries.
  • Action Link extensions: these are call to actions placed within your ad, that direct the clicker to an action page (rather than the final URL of the ad). This can be a reserve, buy now, sign up, contact us button. For instance, while you ad points to your menu, with the Action Link Extension you can also send people directly to your reservation page.

And there are many more: social extensions (including a Skype Button!) as well as the traditional ones in AdWords (location, call, callout etc). All in all some pretty cutting edge and useful options.

There are plenty more benefits to Bing, such as the option to import your AdWords campaigns to make the set up quick and easy, and better customer support service. They really want you to use Bing Ads, and so they are really helpful in supporting you with campaign set up, running them effectively and make very helpful suggestions.

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