Jason Martin - Paid Search & Training Specialist

Jason Martin

26th July 2021

Is Microsoft Bing Ads Worth It?

Microsoft Bing, typically known as the “other” search engine, sits comfortably second with a market share of 8.39% as of June 2021, compared to Google’s 87.7% (Statista). Whilst it might seem like the difference in market share makes it hard to look beyond Google for your marketing needs, there are wins to be had for savvy marketers using Microsoft Ads for paid search marketing - often using the same tools used for Google Ads.

In this article, we shed some light on Microsoft Ads - how it works, what it offers, when you should use it and when you shouldn’t.

Why Use Microsoft Bing Ads?

Microsoft Ads, also known as Microsoft Bing Ads, has existed for over ten years. Starting out as a paid search platform on its own Bing search engine, the service has grown its ad networks outwards to reach more ad space in different ways.

Key changes over the years include:

  • Product results opening up the opportunity for Shopping Ads
  • Growing search ads beyond bing.com to include AOL and Yahoo by default
  • The introduction of Syndicated Search Partners to get your search ads shown across relevant sites
  • The introduction of the Microsoft Audience Network
  • The ability to target LinkedIn users as audience targets in search, using features such as Job, Company Size and Industry

The main attraction of using Microsoft Bing Ads for marketers is its ties with Microsoft Windows. As I’m sure you’re aware, Windows remains the most popular and most used computer operating system in the world, both at home and in the workplace. Microsoft Edge, previously Internet Explorer, remains the default browser on these devices and uses the Microsoft Bing search engine as its default search engine.

So unless your average PC user actively changes the default search engine or installs another browser such as Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox, then it’s highly likely they will be using Bing’s search engine. 

So how can we use this as an opportunity for paid search marketing? Here are a couple of examples.

The Technophobe

The technophobe is often an older generation that is still learning the ways of the online world. There is no Chrome or Edge of Firefox, only the internet. Their out of the box computer or laptop is preinstalled with Windows and has Edge as the default browser, with Bing as the default search engine. It does what the searcher needs it to do, so they are happy and at the same time this opens up an opportunity for businesses with an older customer base to get in front of new customers.

Opportunity: Marketing products and services to an older demographic.

The Worker

The worker is searching online as part of their job role, often using a work computer that’s been set up for them already - and in some cases, they’re unable to change the default browser even if they wanted to! 

The workplace uses Windows and its default browser, traditionally Internet Explorer and now Microsoft Edge, for any online requirements - making them a perfect audience for your business’s advertising.

Opportunity: Marketing B2B products and services to searchers in the workplace.

Does Microsoft Bing Ads Work?

From our experiences at SilverDisc we’ve seen successes in a few notable areas over the years - particularly in the ecommerce space.

Successes include:

  • The B2B ecommerce retailer in the Electricals and Components Industry with a target demographic of at-work searchers
  • The B2C ecommerce retailer in the Home and Garden industry with an average customer demographic of 45-65+ year olds
  • The B2C ecommerce retailer in the Hobbies and Interests industry with an average customer demographic of 45+ year olds

In these examples, we saw account performance that often bettered their Google Ads counterparts, albeit at lower levels (around 20% of spend is a good estimate).

However, there are also instances when Microsoft Bing Ads hasn’t worked, too - particularly for call-driven businesses.

Mobile usage has grown more and more over the last decade, particularly for search. The smartphone market is dominated by two operating systems with their own default browser preferences - Apple’s iOS devices use Safari by default, whilst Android devices use Google Chrome. With Windows not being a strong operating system for mobile devices, using Bing as a search engine isn’t common on phones. 

Search volumes and device usage here at SilverDisc support this notion, too. Our highest volume account by mobile usage in Google Ads, receiving 75% of its traffic from smartphones, only receives 20%-30% of the traffic in Microsoft Bing Ads.

This is important because it shows the limitations of Microsoft Bing Ads if you are an advertiser reliant on driving calls. Not only is the lack of volume there, but Calls From Ads can’t be tracked as conversions directly, at least not as easily as in Google Ads, so you can’t feed calls into any smart bidding strategies or conversion reporting. We’ve found this to be one of our biggest limitations with the Microsoft Bing Ads platform.

Is Microsoft Bing Ads Worth it?

As noted in our introduction, Bing has a UK market share of 8.39%, around 10% of Google’s overall market share. With lower share comes lower competition, lower CPCs and increased opportunity for those who can act on it. But is it all worth it? Let’s take a look.

We’ll categorise “Worth” as two key areas - effort and results.

Firstly, effort. If the hassle of setting up a PPC account on another network is what’s stopping you, then fear not. Already running your campaigns on Google Ads? Then setting up on Microsoft Bing Ads has never been easier via the Import feature. 

Whether it’s a one-off import to replicate your Google Ads account structure in Microsoft Bing Ads or regular imports to keep active campaigns and keywords up to date, the Import tool in Microsoft Bing Ads lets you do this automatically. Simply link your Gmail account, find the account you’d like to pair, select the elements you’d like to import and their schedule - in a few box ticks you will be all set.

It isn’t just Google Ads campaigns you can import, though. For Microsoft Shopping Ads you can use your existing Google Merchant Centre account to import product feeds directly into Microsoft Ads, speeding up the setup of Shopping Ads.

Away from Google Ads, Microsoft has also added Facebook Ads to its list of import tools, which will only benefit the platform further in attracting businesses with existing paid marketing to try Microsoft Ads.

Secondly, results. Whilst it’s true that you never know until you try, the prospect of lower volumes and lower CPCs should offer a softer landing for those willing to take the plunge - we often recommend budgeting 10%-20% of your PPC budget for Microsoft Bing Ads. Additionally, the areas we covered in our previous section should help to give you an idea of whether Microsoft Ads could be right for your business.

We’re a Microsoft Advertising partner with a decade’s experience on the platform. If you’re looking to give Microsoft Ads a go, why not contact us and see how we can help you today?

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