Many businesses will be utilising Google Ads as the primary platform for their PPC (pay per click) campaigns due to its majority market share within the UK.
A question that very often arises from these businesses, is how to we grow our PPC channel further when we have maximised all of the current networks within Google Ads? Today there are an array of options available with many social media platforms that offer PPC campaigns within their environment such as Twitter and Facebook. These platforms may not have audiences that fit your businesses services or products, so the question remains, what other paid channels are available?
Despite Google’s dominance there are still alternative search engines operating that have a user base that a business can market to. Microsoft’s Bing search engine has the UK’s second largest market share and conveniently offers a fully featured PPC platform named Bing Ads.
Bing Ads is an online marketing platform that marketers can utilise to create and manage PPC campaigns for ads on the Bing search engine, similar to Google Ads.
Google Ads allows a marketer to run ads on the Google Search Network, Display Network and Search Partner Network generically known as the Google Network. The network consists of Google’s own search engine, their owned platforms such as YouTube and any “partner” sites which are not owned by Google but have ad placement available via Google AdSense.
Bing Ads is no different in terms of their offering other than ads run on Bing’s search network. The network includes Bing’s regional sites (.com, .co.uk etc.) and sites operated by Bing, such as MSN.com. Also included within this network is AOL.com, Yahoo.com and sites owned or operated by AOL and Yahoo. Bing Ads also has an option to display ads across other third party websites, owned and operated by Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s syndicated search partner network.
In essence Bing’s platform is very similar to Google’s with the main differentiator being the networks and placements that ads will appear, along with minor differences in presentation of those ads.
As illustrated above there are slight differences in the layout of the ads within the SERP’s (search engine results pages) however the basic composition of the search and shopping ad formats are the same. This allows advertisers to utilise all of the features available to them within other platforms.
Whilst aesthetically the UI (user interface) within Bing’s platform may appear different to Google Ads, all of the features, tools, reporting and functionality are present in one form or another. Prior to the rebrand of Google AdWords to Google Ads and the launch of their new interface in early 2019, the two platforms interfaces would have looked much similar.
As previously discussed, ad distribution options that are available when creating campaigns within Bing Ads are:
One distinctive feature that is not present is the “display network” that Google has at its disposal.
Bing does however have a great feature available to manage partner sites in the form of the “website exclusions” within the advanced settings section of the campaign settings. This feature allows for the granular control of search partner sites, by excluding specific URL’s that you may wish to exclude when opting in to search partners on a campaign.
The ad formats available will again be very familiar to any paid marketer that has experience with Google Ads. The formats are also structure to allow for the ability to import corresponding ad types from Google’s platform.
A full guide outlining each ad type, along with their respective composition can be found in the Bing Ad Types guide.
Again, the lack of a display network for Bing, any display related formats are not present here. It’s also worthwhile noting that Bing Merchant Centre is slightly different to Google’s counterpart and may take some time to familiarise with. In addition, product feeds may need some minor adjustments to work with Bing Merchant Centre as outlined within Bing’s feed specification guidelines.
The ad extensions available within Bing Ads are again replicas of those seen within Google Ads with minor differences in their presentation within search results.
One unique extension however is the “image extension” which allows advertisers to display a visual element alongside a text ad such as a company logo.
Further details of each extension alongside details of their composition are available on the Bing Ads extension guide.
As with other platforms there are tools available within Bing Ads to help manage, research, optimise, diagnose issues and plan your campaigns which are outlined below:
Those familiar with Google Ads tools will have no problems utilising the Bing counterparts as they are very much the same.
Bing Ads has the same level of campaign management reporting available within competitors’ platforms, with real time data showing for impressions, clicks, conversions and other metrics. As with Google Ads, there is also access to additional data via the “dimensions” tab.
The differing area is with in depth reporting. Google allows reports to be run, rendered online and then exported. Bings reporting are similar, however only allow users to export the report data to .csv, .tsv or .xlsx file as outlined within their reports guide.
As with any online marketing channel, tracking its activity is imperative to monitor performance and calculate ROI. There are two main aspects that will need to be tracked; the traffic generated from campaigns in addition to the conversion data. Google Ads has auto tagging features, along with conversion tracking and ecommerce tracking available to track traffic in Google Analytics and to monitor conversions within Google Ads.
Bing Ads has similar features available for tracking and conversions in the form of:
A main feature that is not present is the ability to link Google Analytics with Bing Ads. Google Ads allows data sharing with Google Analytics to share data and display metrics across both applications.
Whilst navigating Bing Ads user will find the campaign import feature that has two main importers tools available. The first of the import methods is “Import from Google Ads” that will be discussed in depth at a later stage within this article. The second is “Import from file”, which allows advertisers to import Google Ads and Bing Ads campaign exports of the following file types; .csv, .tsv, .xlsx or .zip.
A fantastic feature that Bing Ads has available is the “Import from Google Ads” tool. This tool utilises Google Ads API to sign in to your account and import the campaigns that you select directly in to Bing Ads.
This process will import all of the data associated to a campaign, including ad groups, settings, targeting, ads, extensions and other elements, all of which are outlined within Bing Ads “What gets imported” documentation. During the import process the import tool will identify areas for conflict and bring them to your attention to address.
There are some items that can’t be imported but can be re-created:
As Bing Ads is a slightly different platform to Google’s, with a differing search engine user base, it is imperative to address these areas following an import:
By following these areas of review when importing campaigns from Google Ads, your account will be well placed to maximise its performance with Bing’s users.
Analysing the demographics data that Bing last provided in as part of its “See who’s on Bing” infographic we can take away some key highlights regarding those using the search engine:
The key points create a picture of a small, affluent audience of users that are further in to a buying process in an environment that is less competitive than other platforms. This audience is almost equal in numbers of male and female users whom are middle aged, more inclined to travel and experience outdoor activities and make higher value purchases, especially with regards to technology.
This data outlines Bing as a search engine with a smaller user base than its major competitor that has a large audience within a buying process. It also averages much lower CPC’s.
Due to the much smaller user base of Bing and its search partner network it’s obvious to conclude that search volumes are much smaller than the search giant behemoth that is Google. Google’s UK market share dominance of 89% dwarfs Bing’s market share of 6.7%.
A very competitive keyword such as “ipad” has been run through both search engines keyword planner tools to illustrate the differences in search volume.
There is a stark difference in the average monthly searches with only 15,000 performed on Bing compared to the 301,000 performed on Google. The other glaring difference is the estimated CPC (cost per click) of £0.58 vs £0.97.
An additional keyword planner lookup illustrates an even bigger disparity in search volumes and estimated bids.
Although campaigns may not yield a huge number of clicks and in turn conversions, in most cases it will produce much lower CPC’s and CPA’s (cost per acquisition). The ability to generate additional conversions, for a much lower cost is the main reason why businesses should utilise Bing Ads.
Despite having a much smaller user base, Bing Ads is a fantastic platform that can be effectively utilised by businesses to grow their PPC with little effort and harness a user base outside of Google’s network. The UI and features within Bing Ads will be familiar to those currently managing campaigns within Google’s platform, however the audiences may differ. So utilising tools such as the keyword planner to adjust campaigns, along with creating ads and enabling extensions that speak to those audiences is key to maximising results.
A 14 year industry veteran that specialises in wide array of online marketing areas such as PPC, SEO, front end web development, WordPress and Magento development.
Accredited Google Partner & Bing Ads qualifications, BA (Hons) in Digital Marketing. One half of the Director duo at Kumo.