Paid Search (PPC)

We ran a trial measuring the performance of Bing Ads against Google AdWords to see which was more economical. The findings were surprising as Bing turned out to be significantly cheaper in this case.

Although Bing/Yahoo only occupies around 15% of the search engine market share, as a combined advertising network, it’s still by far the second biggest search engine. In this case study, I will highlight some of the economic benefits of using Bing, and why it shouldn’t be forgotten about when planning an online advertising strategy.

Bing Continues to be Ignored

There’s no question that more new clients now have a Bing Ads accounts with some sort of activity running. However, the percentage that do not, but do have a Google AdWords account, is still surprisingly high.

There are wide range of factors stopping clients from setting up a Bing Ads account, so it’s impossible to list them all. However, there are some regular excuses used such as, a lack of time to manage it, not understanding the platform, having a limited budget, or believing Google is the only search network worth investing in.

Although these hurdles are sometimes difficult to overcome, it’s important that advertising on Bing/Yahoo is strongly considered, and hopefully this case study will highlight some of the reasons why.

Bing Ads v Google AdWords

Client’s Objective

We started working with a client in May 2016, who were looking to make their Bing advertising more economical, as they were sceptical about how beneficial it was. As the client’s agency, it was our objective to optimise all campaigns for conversions and lower the overall CPA. If we were unable to achieve this objective, the client’s plan was to allocate all of Bing’s budget into their Google AdWords account.

Performance Trial

Before we measured performance of the Bing activity, we needed to get the account in a state which best positioned it to achieve the objective of lowering the CPA. So, as a starting point, we took three of the best performing campaigns in Google and mirrored them as closely as possible in Bing, just with a much smaller budget. This isn’t always a successful approach, but based on the condition of the account and the lack of quality historic data to use, we considered it a good starting point.

The trial run for 45 days between the 28th July and the 10th September. The results of the three Bing campaigns were measured against the three like-for-like campaigns in Google.

Results of the Trial

 SpendConversionsCost-per-acquisition
Google£29,319.81919£31.90
Campaign 1£25,518.49771£33.09
Campaign 2£2,516.0397£25.94
Campaign 3£1,285.2951£25.20
Bing £1,935.75165£11.73
Campaign 1£1,723.34143£12.05
Campaign 2£136.4115£9.09
Campaign 3£76.007£10.86

Conversions:  1. Tracked phone call          2. Online form submission

It’s no secret that Bing has proven to be a more economical platform to advertise on, compared to Google, on numerous occasions. Most PPC managers will have accounts they look after where this is apparent. However, it was the magnitude of the difference in the results that was so surprising. During the trial, Bing proved to be 63.23% cheaper in gaining a conversion compared to Google.

The set-up of the campaigns was almost identical. The only difference was the spend on Google being much higher.

On the chart below you can see the overall CPA performance of Bing’s and Google’s activity. You’ll notice the fluctuations in the performance throughout the trial followed similar paths across the two networks with the exception of day 21-25 and day 31-35. This highlights how similar the campaigns were in terms of their set up.

Bing Ads CPA vs Google AdWords CPA

Why Did Bing Perform Better?

After reviewing the standard advertising metrics, there was little to split the networks in terms of performance. The CPC, CTR, average position etc were all very similar.

However, it was the conversion rate when users were on the site where the differences became apparent. Users of Bing resulted in a conversion rate of 8.78% compared to traffic from Google which had a much smaller rate of 5.96%. As the landing pages, information in the ads and the search queries were all pretty much identical, it suggests that the characteristics between the two groups of users were different. Big claim: Bing users are more likely to convert when on your website…shocking! All joking aside, this isn’t a new insight as there have been so many examples that suggest this, although I’m personally yet to see a clear difference of this magnitude, which makes this example stand out. Also, this isn’t always true, as I, along with other PPC specialists, have seen Google users convert better in other cases. It’s largely affected by the products/services sold and the market you operate in.

Summary

As mentioned, more advertisers are using the Bing platform, and it’s not new to suggest that it regularly proves to be more economical than Google. However, the main takeaway from this case study is not to ignore Bing when developing an online advertising strategy, even if you’ve not used it before and question its value. By structuring the account well and continuously optimising campaigns, it could prove to be a very cost-effective way of generating conversions.

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