It’s the most exciting time of the year at WordStream – annual revenue reports! But we’re not the ones excited about it; the search giants all released their annual revenue reports earlier this month. If you missed the excitement in it all, you can catch all the juicy details here for Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! A quick glance paints a good picture for all 3 companies, but Microsoft proved to have the greatest picture of the three, celebrating a 23% year over year growth in search advertising.
Bing and Yahoo’s reports paint a really wonderful picture of Bing Ads’ growth this past year. Bing grew to 19.7% of the US search market share and Yahoo saw a 10% increase in paid search clicks over the past year. And while there’s no doubt that they’re both still underdogs to Google, they’re making strides in areas Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) has been struggling – Google paid search clicks are actually down 11% from this time last year.
So Bing Ads must be doing something right, and it made me wonder, what is Bing doing that Google isn’t? It may surprise some that Bing Ads has some powerful advantages for advertisers that Google simply doesn’t.
Most small and medium-sized businesses see Bing Ads as an afterthought, but they should really consider it sooner. Bing Ads uses a similar auction dynamic as the Google Ads auction, so the advertisers on Bing have numerous benefits from a lack of competition, such as better ad positions and cheaper costs per click. Of our extensive marketing services clients who were advertising on both Google and Bing, we saw that nearly all had lower search CPC’s on Bing, averaging 33.5% cheaper CPC on Bing. Not only were these clicks cheaper on Bing, but their ads very often were in better positions than their Google counterparts and had higher CTR’s.
Unlike in Google Ads, Bing allows you to assign different campaigns different time zones. This makes sophisticated ad scheduling strategies far easier to manage in Bing, particularly if your campaigns reach internationally.
In Google Ads, Google makes you set your network, location, ad scheduling, language, and ad rotation settings at the campaign level and ad groups are restricted to their campaign-level settings. Bing Ads, however, opens these options up at the ad group level, allowing you to quickly adjust a setting for a particular ad group without having to go through the hassle of creating a brand new campaign to make the change.
Google earned the scorn of the paid search community in 2013 when they forced the migration to enhanced campaigns, where campaigns by default target all desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Users can adjust their bids some for mobile devices, but not for tablets and users can’t opt out of targeting desktop searches.
While Bing plans to remove some targeting options in March, at the moment Bing advertisers can still exclude desktop and tablet traffic from their campaigns. Sophisticated advertisers can even target mobile devices using select operating systems:
In addition to much more robust mobile targeting, Bing also allows you to adjust your bid for tablet users from -20% to +300%:
Google offers paid search advertisers two choices at the campaign level: target Google search, or target Google search and search partners. There’s no in between or alternative. You can’t just target search partners and exclude a particular search partner. You can’t even see which partner engines are driving traffic to your site.
Bing allows users the flexibility of targeting just Bing & Yahoo, just search partners, or both, at the ad group level:
Also, you can quickly run a report in Bing to see exactly which search partners are directing this traffic to your site. Navigate to the reports tab and run a “Website URL (publisher)” report to quickly see exactly where your traffic is coming from:
If you see something in here you don’t like ($82 CPA on msn.com, yikes!), you can even exclude that particular search partner without having to opt out of all the other partner sites. Head back to the campaign settings and add the website as a “website exclusion.”
In August, Google effectively killed off exact and phrase match keywords as we used to know them by forcing a previously optional “close variant” matching target onto all Google Ads accounts. These close variants expanded the reach of these exact and phrase keywords by an estimated 7% by including common misspellings, plurals, and grammatical stemmings of these phrase and exact match keywords. Although this affected a small minority of ~3% of SMB accounts, the reaction among paid search leaders was unilaterally negative.
Although Bing does have the option to include close variant queries as matches, it remains just that: an option. Advertisers can easily opt in or out of close variant matching at the campaign or ad group level:
Bing began testing automated social extensions in late 2014 by showing the number of Twitter followers an advertiser has next to their ad:
Meanwhile on Google, their social extensions show your Google+ followers, which is a nice idea but no one uses Google+.
Even though Google Ads gives us the power to regularly view and control our demographic targeting on the Google Display Network, they leave us in the dark when it comes to search. Currently, Google offers no kind of demographic-based targeting on the search network.
Probably the most innovative and underused offering from Bing Ads is the ability to control which gender and age demographics see your search ads. Demographic targeting can be controlled at either the campaign or ad group level within Bing Ads.
Users can adjust their bids based on MSN users’ gender and age range from -90% (effectively minimizing their reach of that audience) to +900%. This kind of demographic targeting is particularly powerful for advertisers who know that their product or service is usually purchased by a particular gender or age group.
Bing Ads has a lot of unique advantages for SMBs that Google doesn’t offer (yet!). If you’re looking to take your Bing Ads account to the next step, try our new Bing Ads Performance Grader to highlight fast and easy ways to reduce wasted spend and attract more, high quality traffic.
Mark is the Director of PPC at SearchLab Digital. Previously, Mark worked at WordStream and was named the Most Influential PPC Expert of the Year by both PPC and Microsoft.
See other posts by Mark Irvine
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