Does anyone even use Bing?
That may be one of the questions you ask when deciding how to budget for your online ad campaigns.
While Google is still the dominant leader in the world of search engines with 64% of the market, that doesn’t mean Google Ads are the only ones reaching customers.
Bing’s popularity has grown over the last few years, and they now reach a little over 21% of the market. But if that doesn’t sound quite as appealing compared to Google Adwords, you should also know that Bing Ads also get featured on Yahoo Search, which accounts for an additional 10%.
That means any PPC Bing Ad campaigns reach over 31% of the market, which is still significant. More so, Bing claims to reach 59 million users not reached by Google, and in one case study by Search Engine Watch, they reported that it was over 63% cheaper to gain a conversion using Bing Ads.
But the trick to taking advantage of Bing’s PPC advertising potential is to understand how Bing Ads work differently than Google Adwords and which types of ads will work best for your Bing audience.
1. Campaign Creation Differences
One of the biggest boons for Bing is that you can import your Adwords campaigns so you don’t have to start from scratch. But that doesn’t mean that everything will run the same or that you’ll see the same results.
Bing Ads has an updated campaign creation workflow that differs from Adwords in a few key ways.
Unlike Adwords – that only offers campaign-level options – Bing Ads gives you group level options as well, allowing you to quickly adjust a setting for a particular ad group without having create a whole new campaign.
This gives you much more targeted PPC results and better competition without the hassle of creating multiple campaigns to reach a specific audience.
You can even request ad exceptions on ad rejections on the group level, so you don’t have to make requests for individual ads or entire campaigns.
Google effectively killed off exact and phrase match keywords by forcing a previously optional “close variant” matching target onto all AdWords accounts.
Close variants can be helpful for expanding the reach of your ads, since they compensate for things like misspellings, plurals, and other grammatical errors when users are performing related searches. Without close variants, you could be missing portions of your target audience who don’t search for the exact thing you want them to search.
When inputting keywords for a Bing campaign, you have the option of including close variety queries as a match, and advertisers can easily opt in or out on a campaign or group level.
Bing also experiments with the way your campaigns will appear to searchers by offering different annotations and extensions, like merchant ratings, social media extensions, dynamic sitelinks, and long ad titles.
In addition to group levels, this gives you multiple ways to create ads that reach specific audiences and more control over how your campaigns are viewed across different networks and impacts the overall effectiveness of your campaign.
2. Settings Differences
Whether you’re starting a campaign from scratch or importing it from Adwords, there will most likely be some additional fine-tuning required to really maximize your reach potential with Bing. But there are some things you can do with Bing’s campaign settings you can’t do with Google.
Like we mentioned, Google Adwords gives you the option of targeting specific locations with your ads on a campaign level, but Bing actually gives you two location options: campaign level and group level.
Group level allows you to target network and language in addition to location. This gives you much greater flexibility with your campaigns and extends your reach to new markets. And geotargeting in general can help reduce costs in areas that underperform.
Ad Network Distribution
Similar to Adwords, you have the options to serve ads on partner sites (non-search engines), but the way Bing handles this is slightly different.
Bing allows advertisers to monitor and suppress sites on its search so you know how well your ads are performing on other search engines. While Google allows for targeted search networks, you can’t monitor performance or exclude syndication from network sites.
This may require advertisers to spend some time monitoring other sites for performance, but the end results can be worthwhile to create more targeted ads.
Adwords scheduling is based on the time zone of the advertiser, meaning if you’re on the East Coast and you want your ads to appear on the West Coast around 9:00 a.m., for example you will have to set them to run around 11:00 a.m. (and risk your local audience seeing them later on in the day).
Bing Ads, on the other hand, targets time zones based on the location of the user who is viewing the ad, so there’s no guessing what time of day your ads will be viewed.
3. Ad Type Differences
When it comes to performance, Bing performs better with different ad formats than Google.
Images vs. Text
While Adwords offers a variety of support for image ads, Bing thrives on text ads.
This is an important differentiation because it can affect where your ads are eligible to appear (site owners can limit certain types of ads from showing up on certain pages) and even where ads are placed on each page (above the fold or below).
Bing can do images, though it requires the use of Image Extensions. This will allow you to associate up to six images with your campaign and point each image to a unique URL, which can help improve conversions.
You can also set up visual extensions related to social media that will appear in search results. Just remember that additional setup of extensions to image-based ads will require more manual effort than Google.
Because of the focus on text ads over images, Bing Ads also seem to perform differently on mobile than Google.
Both Adwords and Bing offer extensions that target mobile users, but Adwords often perform better on smartphones and tablets. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom for advertisers looking to capitalize on the mobile market, however.
There’s still a largely untapped desktop market available for advertisers, especially in industries like ecommerce, where shoppers are still using desktop devices to buy even if they shop on mobile devices first.
Bing Ads are also catching up to Google in mobile usage, and they now offer bid modifiers on tablets and smartphones that can improve conversions for mobile devices.
When putting together a PPC strategy, the tendency may be to place all of your eggs in one basket. But by ignoring Adwords alternatives like Bing, you could be missing out on a significant share of the market.
If you do decide to use Bing Ads, it’s important to understand the differences that both Google Adwords and Bing Ads have to offer to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Campaign settings that allow for more targeted results (like offering additional locations, timing, and network distribution options) may give you an edge over Adwords if you want to reach untapped markets, but you may have to monitor and refine your Bing Ads more often to get the same views.
But overall, if you’re looking to expand your reach, Bing Ads can certainly improve your PPC if you give it a fighting chance.
Author: Bogdan Chertes
Bogdan has helped dozens of ecommerce businesses grow sales and acquire more customers by using data driven PPC marketing strategies.
At Adfix, he leads a team of top class PPC and Social Media experts that help clients maximize ROI from their campaigns.