Let’s face it – Practically every business has tried Google Ads (or Google Adwords, as it used to be called) at some point.
To some, the platform has become the primary source of sales and revenue. To others, it served merely as a springboard to stimulate growth until traffic from organic search results kicked in.
But is Google’s advertising platform the only place where you could reach customers in a search engine? Are you bound to run Google Ads campaigns over and over again?
Absolutely not. And I can see more and more companies discovering the benefits of using the alternative – Microsoft Ads (or Bing Ads, the platform’s former branding.)
That’s what this post is about – showing you how effective Microsoft (or Bing) Ads can be and why you should consider at least testing this advertising platform.
But let’s start at the beginning.
What Are Microsoft Ads?
First, let’s talk about the name.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been referencing two brands – Bing and Microsoft – and using them interchangeably when talking about PPC ads.
Well, that’s because initially, the platform was called Bing Ads. We, marketers, sometimes referred to it as Bing PPC as well (much like we’d call Google’s advertising platform, Google PPC.)
However, the name, Bing Ads, wasn’t giving away the full scope of what the platform could do. For one, advertisers on the platform could advertise on Microsoft’s three search engines – they could reach Bing users, of course, but also Yahoo and AOL. Eventually, companies were also able to tap into the Microsoft Audience Network too.
It was only logical to rebrand the platform into Microsoft Ads, something that happened in 2019.
So what is Microsoft Ads? In terms of functionality, it’s a search advertising platform, quite similar to Google Ads.
Much like Google’s platform, with Bing Ads, you bid on keywords, typically based on their search volume, and have your ads displayed when someone’s searching for your target phrase.
Similar to the other search engine’s platform, your ads run on a cost per click basis. It means that you pay Microsoft whenever someone clicks on your ad.
Finally, Microsoft ads look very much like Google Ads and reside in similar positions on the screen.
There are, however, certain differences between the two platforms.
Microsoft Ads Have a Greater Network.
We’ve covered that briefly above – Microsoft operates three search engines – Bing, Yahoo, and AOL. As a result, you can target ads to reach users on all three of them.
Microsoft advertising offers unique targeting and scheduling options too.
With Bing Ads, you can target ideal customers using unique features, including:
- Ad scheduling based on the location of the person viewing the ad.
- LinkedIn Network Targeting
- Various extensions, including Form extensions and Call to Action Extensions
Finally, Microsoft Has a Greater Presence in the Voice Search Market
Microsoft-powered voice search devices have a 10% market penetration in the US. Google, on the other hand, enjoys only a 4% share of that market.
All that sounds exciting, I know. Yet the question remains:
Are Microsoft Ads Effective? Should You Consider Using Them for Your Business?
Short answer – Absolutely!
Naturally, Bing Ads should not replace Google as your sole advertising platform. However, as you’ll see shortly, there is a place for both in your digital marketing strategy.
#1. Microsoft Ads Allow You to Reach Customers Who Aren’t on Google
(And you’ll be surprised how many of them there are.)
True, Google might be the no.1 search engine in the world. But it does not have absolute dominance in terms of the market share. Many people still choose Bing or Yahoo sites for their searches.
In fact, usage of Microsoft sites has been continuously growing over the last couple of years. It currently sits at over 26% (data from October 2020).
That’s a significant user base that you can access with a Microsoft Ads PPC campaign.
#2. Using Microsoft Ads Allows You to Diversify the Advertising Spend
I believe that no business should be too reliant on a single advertising channel.
Think of the impact even a small change to the platform could have on your growth and revenue. Google changing the look of the SERP (the search results page) can significantly diminish your click-through rate, for example. It might take time before things get back to the way they were. Because of that over-reliance, your growth might be severely impacted during that time.
Using another advertising platform allows you to maintain at least some of the campaign’s performance, should anything ever changed.
#3. The Lower Competition on Microsoft Ads Means a Lower Cost Per Click Too
Advertising on Google isn’t cheap. At least, not for everyone. If you work in a competitive industry, you will most likely know how expensive bidding on certain keywords can be.
Part of the reason is the number of other companies trying to outbid you and the others. The sheer competition drives PPC ad prices up.
But Microsoft still enjoys relatively lower competition. As a result, CPC remains lower, also for very competitive markets.
#4. Bing Ads Have Better Conversion Rates
Here’s an interesting fact – Bing audiences have a higher purchasing power.
Bing users are also well educated, and many of those people’s household income falls into the top 25% in the US.
As a result, ads placed in the Microsoft Network often enjoy higher conversion rates and better return.
Although, those results will depend on the audience you want to reach, of course.
How to Get Started
The answer may seem obvious – By placing some search ads on the network, of course.
But there’s something I’d like you to remember when setting up the first ad group and trying out Microsoft’s paid search option:
The goal for testing and developing any new marketing channel is to see whether you can achieve a strong (or even better) ROI on the platform.
Your first ads might not translate to a significant boost in business. But as long as you can establish whether the channel promises such potential in the future, your test would be successful.