In the pay-per-click advertising world, it often feels like Google is the only player. In many cases, that’s true. Google holds a significant market share, and many advertisers limit their PPC experience to Google AdWords.
But there are many alternatives to Google for advertisers. One alternative is Microsoft’s Bing.
The Microsoft PPC empire is much more than Bing, actually. By using Microsoft adCenter, advertisers can reach users on both Bing and Yahoo!.
While Yahoo! once had its own PPC platform, in 2008 it joined with Microsoft to form the Search Alliance. Now all PPC ads run through one platform, enabling advertisers to appear on both Bing and Yahoo! via one interface.
Advantages of Using Bing
If your PPC campaigns aren’t currently running on Bing, it’s time to reconsider. Although traffic from Bing PPC is lower than traffic from Google, it almost always has a higher conversion rate and a lower cost per conversion. You’ll find fewer competitors using Bing, so it’s easier and less expensive to make your ad stand out.
Bing also offers all the ad distribution controls you’re accustomed to with AdWords: Bing/Yahoo! only, search partners, content network, dayparting, geo-targeting, and more. I’ve addressed dayparting and geo-targeting here previously, in “PPC Basics: Part 9. Dayparting” and “PPC Basics: Part 10. Geo-Targeting.”
In fact, one of the advantages of Bing is that many of these features are available not only at the campaign level, but also at the ad group level. For example, dayparting can be set at the ad group level in Bing — meaning you can have one ad group running during business hours and another during off-hours, potentially with different offers and/or calls to action. You can also geo-target at the ad group level. Finally, Bing’s new ad rotation settings are applied at the ad group level. These are all huge advantages over Google.
Microsoft is also known for fantastic customer service — many say it’s far better than Google’s. Microsoft’s customer service representatives are always looking for feedback from the community, and they actively participate in social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
They’re highly responsive to feature requests from advertisers, too — something Google is not known for in recent history.
Comparisons to AdWords
If you’re used to using AdWords Editor, adCenter also has a desktop editor, called adCenter Desktop. This tool was significantly upgraded in March, with several usability improvements. Desktop also gives you the ability to directly import campaigns from AdWords, right in the tool. This is a huge leap over AdWords, where PPC managers have to take several intermediary steps in Excel to import campaigns from other PPC platforms.
All you need is your AdWords user name, password, and account number. Follow the steps outlined in the Desktop tool, and in minutes, you’ll be ready to upload your campaigns.
Another helpful feature that’s exclusive to Bing is the Advertising Excellence keyword research tool. The tool is an Excel plugin that runs right within Excel, without exporting files.
The tool offers several options, including traffic estimation, related search terms, bid estimation, and historical keyword performance (from your own campaigns).
To use the tool, simply enter a keyword or group of keywords, select the cell(s), and then choose an option from the ribbon. Ad Intelligence will return your results as a new tab in the Excel spreadsheet. You can manipulate the data just like you would with any Excel data, and can also upload the new keywords directly to your adCenter account.
PPC opportunities on Bing aren’t limited to search. If you’re an ecommerce retailer, check out Bing Shopping. It’s a shopping feed program where your products can be featured in shopping searches on Bing and Yahoo!. Product feeds can be a great addition to your online retail commerce platform, so check that out.
For advertisers looking for reach, frequency, and branding, there are a couple options available in Bing’s display network. For smaller advertisers, you can set up display campaigns right in your Bing adCenter account. These campaigns will run across the Microsoft and Yahoo! display networks.
For larger advertisers, display ads can also be purchased through Microsoft Advertising. Microsoft has “performance offerings” within its display network that can be purchased on a cost per click, rather than cost per impression, basis — an uncommon occurrence in the world of display.
If you’re into real-time bidding, Microsoft also has an ad exchange. Learn more about real time bidding here.
Using Microsoft Advertising, you can also reach audiences on MSN’s television networks, Xbox Live gaming platform, and other display network sites. Be aware, though, that these engagements will probably not include a pay-per-click option. If you want to pay only when someone clicks, be sure to mention that to the salesperson up front.