What do Bing Ads Bring to Paid Search?
BY Kristen Friend
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be an effective and in some cases necessary addition to organic search marketing efforts. Only a certain amount of real estate exists on the first page of search results, and both Google and Bing have a vested interest in displaying paid listings prominently.
According to an Advanced Web Rankings study, paid listings can take a significant share of clicks away from the top organic listing. The study showed that the presence of ads decreased the click-through-rate (CTR) of the first organic page one result by up to 30 percent. Further down the page — past the third organic listing — the interaction between paid and organic results becomes negligible. These findings indicate that your firm's paid ad could take attention and clicks away from top-ranking competitors.
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There is a certain simplicity to paid ads that makes them an attractive option. Your firm only has to pay when someone clicks on your ad, and you can set budget limits to ensure your expenses do not balloon out of control. You can control who sees your ads and when, and you can track results easily and quickly.
Beneath the surface, however, PPC is more complex. Paid advertising campaigns are not set-it-and-forget-it projects. Firms must continuously adjust bids, ad language, timing, audience demographics and budget to try to reach searchers who are most likely to click on an ad and contact them.
Google AdWords has long been the leader in paid search. Google's market share makes participation in their AdWords platform a must for any firm incorporating PPC into its marketing.
Google, however, is not the only viable option. Bing and Yahoo are slowly chipping away at Google's market dominance. According to comScore's February 2015 U.S. Desktop Search Engine Rankings, Google commands 64.5 percent of search volume, Bing 12.8 percent and Microsoft/Yahoo sites 19.8 percent. Since Bing serves ads to its own network as well as Yahoo and Microsoft sites, it commands a 32.6 percent share of desktop search volume.
Bing vs. Adwords
Microsoft has long understood AdWords' PPC dominance. Bing allows users to import AdWords campaigns and continues to make the process easier. In May, Bing began adding support for Upgraded URLs and completed integration of Upgraded URLs in Bing Ads over the summer.
Practically, this means advertisers can now use existing AdWords tracking templates and URLs to seamlessly create Bing paid campaigns. You can import up to 1.5 million keywords and ads from AdWords into Bing, and you can import a whole AdWords account or an individual campaign.
Once campaigns are in Bing, the platform offers several features AdWords does not. Here is an overview of some of the advantages of adding Bing to a PPC strategy.
Bing Ads Intelligence
Bing Ads Intelligence is an Excel extension. Like Google's Keyword Planner, Ads Intelligence assists with keyword research and offers keyword suggestions. It also allows you to track the performance of keywords and see bid suggestions based on existing keyword data.
With Ads Intelligence, Bing has an advantage over AdWords in the area of competitor research. The Auction Insights tab lets you see how your ads are performing relative to firms bidding on the same keywords. Auction Insights only shows data on competitors who have been in the same auctions as you. Performance comparisons are based entirely on how your ads measure up against others competing for the same impressions.
Bing allows you to compare impression share, average page position for ads displayed, the percentage of time a competitor's ad appeared on the same page as yours (overlap rate), the percentage of time a competitor's ad appeared above yours (position above rate) and your top of page rate. You can also see a list of display URLs for those bidding against you in the same auctions.
The ability to see where you are succeeding and failing in specific auctions provides insight into how to optimize future campaigns.
Bing offers control at a group level that AdWords only allows at the campaign level. For example, in AdWords, you may set a location and schedule for a campaign. These settings are inherited by all groups within that campaign. Bing lets you make adjustments to the schedule for one or more groups within a campaign, eliminating the hassle of creating a new campaign.
Ad scheduling within Bing is also slightly more sophisticated. While AdWords bases display timing on the time zone of the ad purchaser, Bing allows scheduling based on the time zone of the ad viewer. And different campaigns can be assigned different time zone settings. This feature may be more helpful to businesses with large, international reach, but it can also come in handy for firms that do business in two or more states that cross time zones.
Because of its smaller audience, Bing cannot command the click rates AdWords does. On average, cost-per-click (CPC) is 32 percent lower for Bing Ads than it is for AdWords. For some industries, the cost can vary even more substantially. According to AdGooroo, the average CPC on AdWords for the legal industry is $5.82. On Bing, the average is $1.76 per click — a 70 percent difference.
Of course, CPCs can vary greatly based on a firm's geographic location and the competitive nature of the bid auction for its keywords. However, Bing offers a more budget-friendly range even when these variables are taken into consideration.
Both platforms let advertisers specify a daily budget. Bing also provides the option to establish a monthly budget.
Bing also allows more control over device targeting than AdWords. You can modify bids for smartphones and tablets separately in Bing. You can decrease or increase your tablet bids from -20 percent to +300 percent and smartphone bids from -90 percent to +300 percent.
Bing's users lean toward a demographic many firms want to reach. People who search with Bing tend to be older; the average age of a Yahoo/Bing user is over 35. More Bing users are college graduates and graduate school students. And the average household income of a Bing user is over $75,000.
One reason for an older, more educated, higher income demographic may be sites like Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. Searches originating from those sources will use Bing. Siri on the iPhone also utilizes Bing for search.
Bing has come a long way in its efforts to compete with AdWords, and it is a viable participant in the PPC market. However, it does not have Google's reach. While the average CPC for Bing campaigns is less than AdWords, so is the number of impressions. A Bing ad may receive only 25 to 30 percent of the impressions a similarly targeted ad would receive on AdWords. Bing may serve as a helpful complement to AdWords, but it is not yet in the position to replace AdWords PPC for most industries, and firms must consider their budget and goals when deciding whether to use either — or both — networks.
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