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 could catch all the juicy details here for Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! A glance paints a good picture for all three companies, but Microsoft proved to have the most excellent illustration of the three, celebrating a 23% year over year growth in search advertising.
Bing and Yahoo’s reports paint a stunning 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 compelling advantages for advertisers that Google simply doesn’t.
1. Microsoft Ads has less competition and cheaper CPC’s.
Most small and medium-sized businesses see Bing Ads as an afterthought, but they should consider it sooner. Bing Ads uses a similar auction dynamic as the Google Ads auction. Hence, 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 managed 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.
2. Microsoft Ads offers more granular control at the campaign and ad group levels.
Unlike in Google Ads, Microsoft Ads allows you to assign different campaigns in 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.
3. Microsoft Ads has better device targeting options.
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 Microsoft Ads plans to remove some targeting options in March, at the moment, Microsoft 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%.
4. Microsoft Ads offers more transparency and control over search partner targeting.
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, only search partners, or both, at the ad group level.
5. Microsoft Ads don’t force close variants on you.
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 stemming 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 adverse.
6. Microsoft Ads have better social extensions.
Microsoft Ads began testing automated social extensions in late 2014 by showing the number of Twitter followers an advertiser has next to their ad.
7. Microsoft Ads allows you to control search demographics.
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 demographics-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 Microsoft Ads.