What About Bing? A Guide to Understanding Microsoft Ads

Diversification is vital when it comes to long-term marketing success. Businesses that rely solely on one marketing channel are extremely vulnerable to competitors, shifts in customer preferences, and shifts in new technology. If all your eggs are in the Google Ads basket, then now is the time to consider Microsoft Ads.

Diversification is vital when it comes to long-term marketing success. Businesses that rely solely on one marketing channel are extremely vulnerable to competitors, shifts in customer preferences, and shifts in new technology.

If all your eggs are in the Google Ads basket, then now is the time to consider Microsoft Ads.

What Is Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising, formerly Bing Ads, is the Bing search engine platform for PPC ad placement. Target audiences can see your ads in three different search engines — AOL, Bing, and Yahoo. Advertisers can have their campaigns viewed across those outlets, any sites owned by them, as well as partner sites.

Incorporating Microsoft Advertising into your PPC strategy expands your reach. The platform accounted for 25% of searches done using a desktop computer during June 2019. The number represents an additional 11 million searches outside of Google.

Understanding the Microsoft Advertising Platform

Microsoft Advertising has vastly expanded the array of tools offered since rebranding its former Bing Ads service. Here is an overview of those features and how they can be used to enhance your current marketing campaigns.

Targeted Ads

Ads on the Bing network can be geared toward specific audiences, thanks to the following targeting features of the Microsoft Ads platform.

  • Keywords — You can place bids on specific keywords and make changes based on conversion rates.
  • Scheduling — Microsoft Advertising allows you to time the display of your ads each day in 15-minute increments. Advertisers can also schedule ads to show up during business hours for their brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Demographics — You can design ads targeted at specific age groups and age ranges.
  • Location — You can target specific locations where your ads will be displayed and/or block locations from seeing your ads.

Shopping Campaigns

Microsoft Shopping Campaigns allow you to manage your product catalogs housed in the Microsoft Merchant center store. Product Ads include information about the product itself, an associated image, and any promotional text you may want to add. You can build them from scratch or import any Google campaigns you may have already built.

You can enhance the catalog feeds in your Microsoft Shopping Campaigns using the following attributes:

  • Product Category (max of five per offer)
  • Brand Name
  • Product Type
  • Condition of Product
  • Merchant Product Identifier (or Item ID)
  • Customized label (up to five per offer)

Microsoft Search Network

The Microsoft Search Network includes sites like MSN.com, Yahoo.com, and all other syndicated Microsoft and Yahoo partners. All search and audience ads are distributed across the network, aimed at your specific audiences.

Advertisers can narrow or expand the focus of their ads based on their current needs. You can choose to have campaigns seen everywhere or target a single channel. Microsoft Advertising also allows you to exclude your ads from being seen on partner websites.

AI Capabilities With Microsoft Audience Network

Microsoft tracks audience behavior patterns and uses that information to come up with new enhancements for advertisements while giving you a brand-safe environment. The Microsoft Graph visualization tool allows advertisers to view datasets and other information for better insight into the performance of various campaigns.

Advantages of Microsoft Advertising

Ads displayed on the Microsoft Search Network tend to attract an older audience, with 40% of those responding in the 35- to 54-year-old demographic. It’s an essential factor, because that age group accounts for nearly 75% of Bing users. Almost half the audience in that network makes at least $75,000 or more per year, making Microsoft Advertising an attractive prospect for those targeting high-wage earners.

Microsoft Ads campaigns tend to spend only a third of the amount that they would on a Google Ads campaign.

Why Bing

Microsoft Advertising allows you to diversify your PPC campaigns. Like Google Ads, it gives you control over your target audience and ad placements. Plus, Microsoft Advertising tends to cost less than Google Ads and will get your ads in front of an older, higher-earning audience.

Want more tips to improve your ad campaigns?  Click here to grab a copy of our “Ultimate Google Ads Checklist.”

SEO or PPC: Which Should Marketers Invest in First?

SEO or PPC? Both are both effective marketing strategies to send targeted audiences to your website. They are different, though. Understanding how they are different, and which one you should utilize first in your digital marketing campaign, is important to your success online.

SEO or PPC? Both are both effective marketing strategies to send targeted audiences to your website. They are different, though. Understanding how they are different, and which one you should utilize first in your digital marketing campaign, is important to your success online.

SEO vs. PPC

Let’s tackle SEO first. Search engine optimization is the process of making your website attractive to not only search engines, but to users, as well. When your website has an intuitive navigation, informative and focused pages, clean HTML code and keyword-optimized meta tags, then you signal to search engines that you have pages that deserve to rank high in the search results.

SEO also involves making sure your website performs efficiently enough for users. This includes making it fast enough, mobile-friendly and easily navigable. These website factors are important to users, so they are important to search engines.

The downside to SEO is that it generally takes months or even years to gain traction in the search engines.

PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is much different, in that you can see results from it in a matter of days. Like any advertising, it’s important to research the best targeting for your business, create engaging ads, and display those ads at the perfect times for your target audience. It’s not easy, especially when you first start, but as you collect and analyze your data, you start to figure out which combinations of keywords, ads, locations and times of the day bring the most qualified users to your site.

What’s great about PPC is that you can use the information you gather from successful campaigns to boost your site’s SEO. The keywords that are the most effective in ads will also work for your website in organic searches, so it’s a win-win.

What to Do When You Have a Limited Budget

The best way to bring in targeted leads as soon as possible is to invest in PPC and SEO right from the start. However, if you do not have the budget to do this right away, there is an alternative that we recommend.

Start with SEO to get the basic foundation of your website in order. This means making sure your site functions well, existing pages are optimized for relevant keyword phrases, and you have the landing pages needed to convert visitors. Once you have laid a solid foundation, then invest money into PPC.

Putting your money into PPC while your website builds strength in the search engines is a great way to benefit from the people searching for your services and products each day. You will start getting leads faster, while still remaining in your budget.

Conclusion

So, let’s review. If you have the budget, invest in PPC and SEO right away. PPC ads will bring you leads quickly, while SEO will help you get your website noticed by the search engines and users for free organic traffic.

If your budget doesn’t allow investing in PPC and SEO, start by optimizing your website for relevant keywords. Once the site is optimized for search and users, you can switch gears to focus more on PPC. PPC ads can always be part of your campaign, and should be, as the results from your ads can be used effectively in your site’s SEO. With successful PPC and SEO management, you could end up having your site on search engine results pages twice for keywords, increasing the likelihood of people clicking through to your site.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

 

SEO Tool How-To: SpyFu

Learn how to gain a competitive advantage in SEO and search advertising using SpyFu to instantly find your competitors’ keywords and ad copy.

Have you ever wondered what your competitors are doing online to bring in traffic and conversions? If so, you’re going to love learning about SpyFu. It’s like having a private investigator who finds out how your competitors are marketing and the results they’ve received from those efforts.

In our ongoing series to spotlight the SEO tools top brands are using, let’s dig into what this secret agent can do for your business.

About Super Sleuth SpyFu

SpyFu is a powerful tool that allows you to see what your competitors are doing behind the scenes with their online marketing.

The tool provides a competitive analysis for the following:

  • Search engine rankings
  • PPC campaigns
  • Backlinks

Insight into these three online marketing areas can provide a wealth of information to get ahead of your competitors.

Search Engine Rankings

SpyFu finds websites that are trying to rank for the same keywords as you. Simply by entering your URL and keywords, the tool will return a list of your closet competitors.

The information provided allows you to see what other keywords competitors rank for, and how they ranked for them. You can click on the website pages for the keywords that are ranking highly to see what may be garnering those top spots, and then come up with a plan to make your content better.

The tool allows you to save competitors you want to follow. You can then regularly look at those saved competitors to see how their rankings have changed, and how your site is ranking in comparison.

PPC Campaigns

A big part of PPC is trying different ads to see which ones perform better. But what if there was a way for you to see which ads perform better before even testing them? That’s exactly what SpyFu lets you do.

In the PPC Research section of the tool, you can see your competitors’ ads, keywords, and results from them. You can see how much money they have spent. How many clicks their ads received and how long they were live. All of this information can help you determine:

  • Budget
  • Best performing keywords
  • Most effective ad copy

The best part of this competitive analysis is that you can see what was ineffective, which can save you a lot of money. In other words, you can let your competitors pay for your market research!

Backlinks

Backlinks continue to be an important ranking factor. It’s not always easy to get those links, unless you know where to find websites willing to link to you. The good news is that SpyFu helps you do that by letting you see which websites have linked to your competitors’ sites.

All you have to do is put in your competitor’s URL. The tool looks up all of the URL’s backlinks and gives you a list of links. You can then go to each one to see if you already have a backlink from it. If you do, move on to the next one. If you don’t, find out whether you can get one too. It could be as simple as contacting the website owner to ask if he/she would be willing to link to an article on your site.

Why SpyFu Should Be Part of Everyone’s SEO Toolbox

You need to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing online if you are going to outrank them on Google. Marketing your business without SpyFu is like shooting in the dark. Turn on the light by using a competitive analysis tool. It will provide you more insight than you could ever get from just scanning their site and searching for their ads.

For more information on how to boost your rankings on Google, click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

YouTube vs. Vimeo: Learn From Our Promotional Hiccup

No one likes a hiccup in their promotion—especially when you expected your message to spread virally on Facebook, but it wouldn’t as easily. More frustrating? It wasn’t a Facebook problem, but the inability to choose an acceptable thumbnail frame on YouTube that would satisfy Facebook’s advertising rules. The solution? Use Vimeo and YouTube and leverage the strength of both. It’s less than convenient, but using both services enabled us to use the best of both worlds

No one likes a hiccup in their promotion—especially when you expected your message to spread virally on Facebook, but it wouldn’t as easily. More frustrating? It wasn’t a Facebook problem, but the inability to choose an acceptable thumbnail frame on YouTube that would satisfy Facebook’s advertising rules. The solution? Use Vimeo and YouTube and leverage the strength of both. It’s less than convenient, but using both services enabled us to use the best of both worlds.

We’re in the midst of a short video test for a performing arts organization. We’ve started a contest using short video clips as a way to introduce new music to the fan base, build engagement and ultimately sell concert tickets to a series of performances in mid-April.

In today’s blog, we’ve described an issue that arose for our first video when we posted it on Facebook. It didn’t really hurt the campaign, but rather, reduced our viral reach. Fortunately, we had alternatives and we figured out how to fix the issue for our second video. This is learning that will be important to you if you plan to post videos on Facebook and use promoted posts and pay-per-click advertising to generate more traffic to the video.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

We’ve used promoted posts in the past. Based on our use of Facebook promoted posts last Christmas, and the fact that Christmas show ticket sales were up 20 percent over a year earlier, we believe those promoted posts contributed to the sales increase. And we certainly know that using promoted posts grew our number of fans.

When we posted our first video in this series for the April Shows, we used the promoted post option as we’ve done before. But this time, a few hours later, we received an email notification from Facebook that the promoted post wasn’t approved.

We figured out the reason, and it was that our thumbnail video image had too much text on it to meet Facebook promoted post standards. With YouTube hosting the video, you have little flexibility over the thumbnail image you want. The ability to choose an image is important if you want to use paid promoted posts on Facebook. If you want to promote a post, Facebook requires 80 percent or more of the image to be a photograph or other graphic treatment, and only 20 percent text.

While Facebook still included the video on our page and it was visible and played for our fans, it meant our post would not be promoted to friends of fans.

Thankfully there is an alternative in Vimeo. Vimeo allows the user to choose the exact frame from the video you want to appear when the video isn’t playing. So for our second video, a frame was created where the text was less than 20 percent of the image.

Facebook approved the promoted post, which enabled us to also create a pay-per-click advertising program. In the meantime, the video was also posted on YouTube, which we use for the video on our landing page.

Learn more in today’s video about our experience. We also describe in more detail the pros and cons of YouTube vs. Vimeo.

In the meantime, please share your comments, suggestions and experiences. We’re all learning here together, and we hope you’re enjoying the ride.