Why Microsoft Advertising deserves a place in your paid advertising strategy – and how it compares to Google Ads.
Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing) doesn’t get as much attention as Google Ads in the digital advertising space. Obviously, it makes sense to maximise your search presence on the top platform but Bing remains the second-biggest search engine in the UK, handling more than a fifth of all searches.
The fact is, you can’t maximise your search presence without Microsoft Advertising and there are plenty of other reasons to advertise on the network. In this article, we explain why your search marketing strategy should have a space reserved for Microsoft Advertising.
What is Microsoft Advertising (previously Bing Ads)?
Microsoft Advertising is an advertising platform that delivers paid listings among search results across the Microsoft Search Network. Previously known as Bing Ads, Microsoft Advertising is the rebranded search advertising network that provides the closest alternative to Google Ads with the second-biggest market share in the UK – second only to Google itself.
If you have any experience advertising on Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising is the same kind of system. You pay to show ads in search results by bidding on keywords with almost identical targeting settings, ad formats and display network campaigns.
The key difference is, Microsoft Advertising builds your search presence on a platform used by more than 19 million PC users in the UK alone and 719 million globally, most of whom don’t use Google. That amounts to a 20+% share of the UK’s search market share, significantly above the ~15% global average.
Whichever way you segment the data, Microsoft Ads connects you with a large, exclusive user base that no business can afford to ignore.
Where do Microsoft ads show?
Microsoft Advertising powers ads across three search engines: Bing, AOL and Yahoo! – as well as any partner sites that syndicate results from Bing (you can find all the details you need in the “ad placement” section of this documentation page).
You can create the following ad types in Microsoft Advertising:
- App Install Ads: An ad format for promoting apps with a CTA button linking directly to the relevant app store.
- Expanded Text Ads: The newer, larger standard format for search ads.
- Dynamic Search Ads: Automatically generated search ads targeted to relevant keywords, based on the content across your website, specific pages or categories.
- Bing Smart Search Ads: Search ads optimised for touch to enhance the mobile experience, often including a preview of your landing page.
- Microsoft Audience Ads: Visual ads that show across placements including MSN, Outlook.com, Microsoft Edge and other Microsoft partners.
- Multimedia Ads: Visual ads that show in search, using large imagery to showcase your brand and/or products.
- Product Ads: Visual product listing ads (the equivalent of Google Shopping ads).
- Responsive Search Ads: A partially automated ad format that chooses the best combination of headlines and descriptions to maximise campaign performance.
You can use a combination of targeting settings in Microsoft Advertising to control who sees your ads across placements. You can use location targeting to include or exclude locations, ad scheduling to control the times your ads are eligible to show, device targeting to segment mobile, tablet and desktop users, and age and gender targeting to narrow in on your preferred audience.
Which is better, Google Ads or Bing Ads?
Microsoft Advertising is still commonly referred to as Bing Ads and you’ll often see comparison articles with things like “Bing Ads vs Google Ads” in the title.
This makes it a little tricky to know whether such articles are up to date. Keep in mind that a lot of people are still using search terms that include “Bing Ads” – just as it took time for people to adopt the same Google Ads after the big AdWords rebranding.
Either way, both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising have their pros and cons.
Microsoft Advertising is “better” for
- Cost: Microsoft Advertising tends to have lower CPCs for most equivalent search terms compared to Google Ads.
- CTRs: Click-through rates on Microsoft Search Ads tend to be higher than equivalent queries on Google Ads.
- Less competition: With fewer advertisers active on Microsoft Advertising, ad placements are easier to win and CPCs should stay lower for longer.
- Decision-makers: Although far fewer people use Microsoft Bing, a larger percentage of them are high earning business decision-makers.
- Device targeting: Microsoft Ads gives you more control over device targeting than Google Ads, including the operating system being used.
- Remarketing conversion rates: While overall conversion rates are higher on Google Ads, remarketing ads in Microsoft Advertising can achieve higher conversion rates – especially for campaigns targeting B2B decision-makers.
Google Ads is “better” for
- Reach: Microsoft has a sizable user base but it can’t compete with Google when it comes to reach – it’s not even close.
- Conversion rates: Although Microsoft may beat Google for a lot of remarketing campaigns, conversion rates are generally higher across the board on Google Ads – especially Search and Shopping campaigns.
- ROI: Despite higher CTRs and lower CPCs on Microsoft, higher conversion rates on Google Ads result typically generate a higher return on investment.
- Local search: Google is more geared towards mobile and local search and benefits from Google Maps, Google My Business, Android and a search partnership with Apple for iOS.
- Google Shopping: Google is more geared towards consumers, to begin with, and it also offers a more sophisticated shopping network.
- Automation: Google’s automated ad and campaign formats are also more sophisticated.
- Innovation: Google innovates and Microsoft is happy to imitate.
There’s no clear cut answer to Microsoft Advertising or Google Ads being better than the other. They have different strengths but the most important thing is that they have different user bases that typically use one or the other – not both.
So the most important factor here is maximising your search presence, which you can only do by advertising on both platforms. From here, you can optimise campaigns to maximise the benefits of both – for example, you might use Microsoft Ads to maximise traffic (higher CTRs and lower CPCs) or target business decision-makers and Google Ads for maximising ROI.
Also, keep in mind that these pros and cons are all very generalistic and, in many cases, we’re talking about fine margins. You can get great results from both platforms; they simply have their own strengths and weaknesses.
How much does Microsoft Advertising cost?
As with any PPC platform, the cost of your strategy depends on your goals and how much you invest in the system. For the sake of comparison, data from WordStream shows that the average CPC in Microsoft Advertising is £1.12 across all industries, which would make the average click 42.5% cheaper on Microsoft Advertising.
|Microsoft Advertising||Google Ads|
|Avg. Conversion Rate||2.94%||3.75%|
*Financial figures converted from $USD at the time of writing
However, if you compare cost-per-action (CPA), the difference is significantly smaller with the average conversion being 15.3% less expensive on Microsoft Advertising. A lot of this comes down to the higher conversion rates Google Ads tends to achieve, as we explored earlier.
For more information on how this compares with the cost of Google Ads, you can take a look at this article:
While it’s useful to look at metrics like CPA and conversion rates as a measure of expense (CPCs are actually very misleading), focusing on ad spend is counterproductive in PPC advertising. Whatever your budget may be, the goal is to maximise your return, which normally means generating as much revenue as possible from your spend.
If you take the mindset of spending as little as possible, you limit your returns and business growth falls short of its full potential.
Is Microsoft Advertising worth it?
With a 20+% share of the UK search market, Bing has a user base no business can afford to ignore. The colossal numbers Google boasts can leave you thinking that you should pump all of your resources into the world’s leading search engine and forget about Microsoft Advertising.
That’s 19 million PC users alone that you’re cutting off from your business by not running ads on Microsoft’s network.
If you’re advertising on Google Ads, it only makes sense to run ads on Microsoft Advertising as well – it’s the only way to maximise your search presence. With the Google Import feature, you can simply import your Google Ads campaigns into Microsoft Advertising to cut out any duplicate work (although we recommend that you develop and optimise your Microsoft Advertising strategy independently).
The real question is, can you afford to not advertise on Microsoft?
Ready to start with Microsoft Advertising?
If you’re ready to get started with Microsoft Advertising and need help with implementing it into your search marketing strategy, you can speak to our PPC experts by calling 02392 830 281, filling out the contact form below or reaching out to us on social via @VerticalLeap.
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