When you think of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising platforms, you likely think about Google Ads, and then stop. This makes sense: Google Ads is by far the biggest PPC platform out there, as it takes place on the largest search engine in the world. Google receives around 5-6 billion searches a day. However, the biggest search engine does not mean the only search engine, and there are competitors around.

The largest competitor is Microsoft Advertising, previously Bing Ads. With somewhere between 300-800 million searches per day, Bing is not the tiny competitor it may seem at first glance. For many businesses, utilising its PPC platform may be a worthwhile endeavour. 

So if you are interested in getting started and setting up some Microsoft Advertising campaigns, read on as we discuss everything you need to know: the benefits and drawbacks of the platform, how to set up conversion tracking and importing Google Ads campaigns. You can be up to speed on everything Bing has to offer in just a few short minutes.

So let’s dive straight in.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising definitely has some advantages over Google Ads that can make it the perfect choice for your business.

Its 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. This also means that Bing is the default search engine – and many people seem to be leaving it that way, perfectly happy with the search engine. People are also increasingly using the digital assistant Cortana – again, powered by Bing.

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

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 than the average user on Google, as they have more purchasing power. This leads to increased conversions and ROI for businesses.

This older demographic also means your ads are less likely to receive a misclick, or a user clicking on all the adverts to find the best deal.

Less competition

The lower market share on Microsoft Advertising is due to the fewer businesses using the platform. This can be a negative, but it also means that there are fewer businesses competing for your keywords. This means more Impression Share for your campaigns, which is only a good thing.

Microsoft Display Advertising campaigns can be a great way to saturate the market with ads for your business, rather than in the highly competitive Google Ads market.

Cheaper CPCs

This isn’t true for all keywords, as highly competitive terms (Like Casinos or Lawyers) are fairly equally expensive on any platform. However, for the average business, you may find the cost-per-click to be significantly cheaper on Microsoft advertising, likely due to the lack of competition. According to Wordstream, the average CPC is up to 33.5% lower than compared to Google Ads. At that kind of discount, you can’t afford not to use the platform!

We have done further analysis regarding the costs associated with Microsoft Advertising, which goes further in-depth into the issue and uncovers some very interesting statistics.

Ad extensions

Just like in Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising offers ad extensions. Some are the same as with Google, but some of Bing’s own extensions are quite exciting and unique:

  • Image extensions
    You can upload an image to go next to your ad copy. 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.
  • Action Link extensions
    These are calls to action placed within your ad, that direct the user to an action page (rather than the final URL of the ad). This can be a reserve, buy now, sign up or contact us button. For instance, while your ad points to your search page, 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 extensions in Google Ads (location, call, callout etc). All in all, there are some pretty cutting-edge and useful options available.

There are plenty more benefits to Bing, such as the option to import your Google Ads campaigns to make setting up quick and easy, which we will discuss later in this post.

Things to consider when using Microsoft Advertising campaigns

Microsoft Advertising isn’t always the best option, and it’s worth bearing in mind some of the negatives that come with it when considering which platform to use for your paid campaigns. Here are five negatives to Microsoft Advertising that are certainly worth thinking about before charging headfirst into some Microsoft Advertising campaigns.

Microsoft Advertising has a lower market share

Back in 2015, Google took an incredible 89.41% of all searches online, whilst Bing took only 5.7%. That may seem low, but now it’s even lower. Google has over 92% market share, with Bing having just 2.5%.

Whilst the costs with Bing may be low, the potential audience is also much lower on Bing. This may mean reduced revenue or ROAS, even with a higher conversion rate on Bing.

US Paid search engine spend over time
Graph showing US Paid search engine spend over time for Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising – Source IgnitionOne

Its customer service isn’t as good as Google’s

Google is a multinational, billion-dollar company that invests heavily into its support staff. If you have an issue, you can email, call or use live chat to get a response quickly. 

Bing is a smaller company and so cannot invest as much into its support. Issues can take longer to resolve because the wait time for a response is longer. It isn’t criminally slow or likely to hurt your campaigns significantly, but it is an extra issue putting another negative on Microsoft Advertising.

Clunky user interface

The Microsoft Advertising platform user interface is a little outdated and blocky. This is because they haven’t been able to invest the time and money into A/B testing and updating the interface based on feedback like Google has.

This isn’t a huge issue, and obviously doesn’t affect campaign performance at all, but it does mean that set-up and ongoing running of campaigns can take a bit longer to do compared to Google Ads, just because the interface isn’t ad user-friendly as it could be.

Microsoft Advertising broad match keywords

There are different types of keyword match types used in paid search. Broad match keywords can show you adverts for a wider number of terms compared to phrase match – in which words either side of your phrase will trigger your ads – or exact match keywords – in which your advert will trigger only when the exact phrase is used. The main problem with Microsoft Advertising ads is that they are much more reliant on broad match keywords than Google.

You need to pay attention to this, because your broad match keywords may trigger for phrases that are not even closely related to the keywords you are bidding on. In 2014 and 2015, Bing made their broad match keywords even broader. If we look at the Bing and Google’s definitions of broad match, on the face of it they seem quite similar.

Here’s Google’s own explanation of AdWords broad match:

Broad match lets a keyword trigger your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), related searches, and other relevant variations.

Compare this Bing’s description of broad match keywords:

Any word in your keyword, in any order, including words closely related to your keyword, must be in the search query or other input. Example: if your keyword is red flower, searches for red flower, flower is red, and buy crimson flower will trigger your ad

Bing’s definition of broad match is so general that it is hardly worth using. Relying on modified broad match keywords and negative keywords, whilst paying close attention to the matched search terms triggering your ads is a must.

These are just a few of the pros and cons regarding Microsoft Advertising. In the past, we have looked into this further. However, the final result is the same: Microsoft Advertising has a lot of downsides, but they don’t make the platform worthless. Using the platform as an extra extension for your PPC activities can certainly be worth the hassle.

How to successfully set up Microsoft Advertising conversion tracking

Hopefully you are now interested in setting up your first Microsoft Advertising campaign. To start, let’s explain how to set up conversion tracking properly within Microsoft Advertising.

To measure the return on your advertising spend it is important to establish your goals. In Microsoft Advertising you can do this by going to the Shared Library section and creating a goal. Depending on what you want to track, you can select from the following options:

  • Destination URL
  • Duration
  • Pages viewed per visit
  • Event
  • Mobile app install

To measure form completions or purchases, select the Destination URL option and enter the URL of the order confirmation or enquiry form thank you page:

set up microsoft advertising

The conversion window settings allow you to set the maximum period of time after a user clicks on your add and then go on to make a purchase or enquiry. The default value is 30 days, but it can be set as high as 90 days.

Under the counting section you also have the option to track unique users’ completing goals or to count every goal completed by a user. For example if a user completes two transactions during one visit, or within the conversion window period, this will count as two goals completed.

Once you have entered the details, save the goal and the copy the JavaScript code provided and past it into the code of your website:

microsoft advertsing javascript code

This process is very similar to setting up Goals in Google Analytics. The difference is that the Javascript tracking code from Bing is unreliable and doesn’t always work.

This is a brief overview of the set-up. If you have any issues with this, review our blog with a more in-depth and technical look at setting up conversion tracking correctly.

How to transfer a Google Ads account into Microsoft Advertising

One of the best, if not the best, capability within Microsoft is to import PPC campaigns directly from within Google Ads. This is a huge time-saver, particularly with the clunky interface that was mentioned earlier. Being able to import your campaigns from Google Ads into Microsoft is a simple and quick process, meaning that getting campaigns running on both platforms does not require double the set up time.

It is a very easy process, though it does involve a lot of steps, so let’s walk through it.

Step 1: You’ll need to create, or log in to your Microsoft Advertising account.

Step 2: Along the top navigation bar, select “Import Campaigns” and click “Import from Google AdWords” in the dropdown.

microsoft advertising import campaigns

Step 3: Select the “Sign in to Google” button and a pop up should appear, requesting which Google account to sign in to. Choose whichever account has access to the Google Ads account where the campaigns you’d like to import are situated.

Microsoft Advertising choose Google account

Step 4: Choose the Google Ads account that you want to import the campaigns from. Then click “Continue”.

Microsoft Advertising Google account continue

Step 5: You’ll be asked if you want to import everything or specific campaigns. If you want to import specific, click the toggle and then select which campaigns you’d like to import. Once happy with your selection, press “Continue”.

Microsoft Advertising campaign import

Step 6: You should now be faced with “Choose Import Options”, open up all three menus; “What to Import”, “Bids and Budgets”, and “Other Options”. I would advise you to check over each of the checkboxes available to you. Typically, you wouldn’t need to amend any of the options but in some circumstances, you may need that additional level of control.

Microsoft Advertising Choose Import Options

Step 7: Select whether you’d like to schedule your imports frequently, or select “Now” for a one-off import.

Step 8: Take a look at your import summary!

If you encounter any “Skipped” entities from your import, you can download the report of your import and have a dig around to find which components were skipped. Microsoft does a very good job of importing from Google Ads, but from time to time you may incur a difficulty or two. A common problem that you might want to manually review, is the location targeting of your imported campaigns. Microsoft Advertising does not offer as granular location targeting, and if you attempt to import a campaign that’s highly geo-targeted, it might just decide to reset and target the entire world.

Things to bear in mind

Negatives work differently

Microsoft Advertising doesn’t support negative broad match keywords, and so all existing Google Ads broad match negatives will be converted to phrase match.

Scheduling

As mentioned above, you can schedule an import to happen frequently, or just as a one-off. If you make changes to your account, like adding keywords or updating adverts, on a regular basis, you may want to consider selecting a regular option.

Microsoft Advertising – a replacement for Google Ads?

In this article, we have discussed the pros and cons of Microsoft Advertising. Hopefully, this has opened your eyes to the possibility of Microsoft as a potential extra branch to your PPC efforts.

However, should it totally replace your Google Ads campaigns? Probably not. The much lower user base and potential audience mean lower CPCs and less competition, but it also means far less opportunity for conversions.

The other issues, like support and user interface are not huge issues and can be dealt with if required. The lack of an audience, however, cannot really be dealt with.

Until Bing gets a bigger market share, Microsoft Advertising should be a secondary and supplemental platform for your marketing efforts, rather than the main path.

Other things to consider

Other PPC platforms

Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising are not the only two PPC platforms. Far from it in fact. It just depends on what your goals are. If you sell eCommerce, then consider Amazon, or Walmart in the US. If your product or service fulfils an issue people have, then consider using Quora ads, and display ads to users posing questions that your product can answer.

Bing is updating continually

Bing is not finished updating and modernising their PPC platform. Not by a long shot;. In fact, they are continually making huge leaps in updates. Rather than streamline their user interface, they are trying to match Google with more specific targeting options, ensuring that their platform stays relevant.

Bing market share on the rise?

The market share of Bing has been underestimated for a long time, generally just seen as the little brother of Google, trying to copy them in every way. Only a few years ago, Bing’s market share of searches was estimated around 3%. Currently, worldwide that estimate is around 9%, though Microsoft have recently stated that their market share in the US is as high as 33%. With numbers like this, maybe it is time to consider adding Microsoft Advertising to your digital marketing efforts.


If you need help with your paid search don't hesitate to contact us.

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