Why Marketers Should Tap Into the Potential of Bing Ads, the Dark Horse of the Search World

With the introduction of the Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN), enhanced AI capabilities and increased partnerships within the last 12 months, Bing Ads is becoming an even more advanced channel that should be tapped to effectively reach the right audience at key moments.

Bing has often been an overlooked publisher in the search world, left in the shadows of its older rival, Google Ads, and simply not given the credit it’s due. However, marketers shouldn’t overlook the dark horse that is Bing Ads. With the introduction of the Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN), enhanced AI capabilities and increased partnerships within the last 12 months, Bing is becoming an even more advanced channel that should be tapped to effectively reach the right audience at key moments.

Partnerships and AI

The long-standing partnership between Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo continues to evolve; starting in March 2019, Bing began exclusively servicing Yahoo Search traffic, which included traffic currently acquired from Oath Ad Platforms (previously known as Yahoo Gemini) and other search platforms. With Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn came the ability to target LinkedIn users based on job function and title, an exceptionally important development for those in the B2B sector, and a feature that Google simply cannot match.

A few key placements and sites unique to Bing that marketers should consider adding to their advertising efforts include the trifecta of MSN, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Edge. This trifecta enables marketers to deliver high-quality native ad placements across devices regardless of audience, while benefiting from Bing’s promise never to show ads next to sensitive categories such as tragic current events to help protect brands. Bing offers two layouts for native ad formats: image-based ads and feed-based ads. Imaged-based ads are highly visual and appear across multiple types of platforms. Plus, a big bonus to marketers is the ability to import their current assets from what they’re already running on the Google Display Network (GDN) or Facebook. Feed-based ads are product-based and require the use of product audiences which retarget customers on products they’ve already viewed or even added to cart but didn’t finish the check-out process.

Chatbots offer another great way to provide on-demand answers to customers, and Microsoft and Bing stand are at the forefront. This real-time ad extension format can inspire users to purchase an item or answer specific questions to help better service their needs. In fact, Bing projects that 95 percent of customer interactions will be powered by AI bots by 2025. This is something that Bing has been testing for some time now, but Google has barely set in motion.

The MSAN Factor for Bing Ads

There’s been a lot of talk about keywords becoming a thing of the past and looking toward audiences as the means to effectively reach consumers in the future, causing a ripple effect across the industry. In fact, Google AdWords dropped ‘Words’ from its name last June (announced at Google Marketing Live 2018), as the company transitions its focus to the ads themselves. But what does Bing have going for it in this aspect that Google doesn’t? The MSAN component. MSAN is powered by AI and machine learning known as the Microsoft Graph. This intelligent tool contains search and web activity and helps isolate trends to help reach a marketer’s target audience. Bing does not allow for commercial data contained in the Graph to be used for targeting ads; any data is privately stored, owned and anonymized by Bing — a critical factor in a world where privacy is at the forefront of both consumers’ and marketers’ minds.

MSAN and Google Ads’ audience network have similarities like remarketing, in-market, custom audiences and product audiences. Additionally, advertisers can target by age, gender location and device. But the real shining star of MSAN and Bing Ads is LinkedIn profile targeting. This unique feature allows advertisers to apply LinkedIn targeting to campaign and ad group levels and target by industry (with up to 145 unique industries), by company name (over 80,000) and by job function (26). Marketers can apply these targeting settings for text ads, shopping and dynamic search ads.

Artificial Intelligence Ethics

Marketers are not the only ones watching Microsoft’s next move. In a surprising revelation, the Vatican is teaming-up with Microsoft for a prize to “promote ethics in artificial intelligence.” Pope Francis even met with Microsoft’s President Brad Smith on Feb. 13 to discuss the Catholic church’s position on AI. The person who best defends their dissertation on ethical concerns involving AI will win a trip to the Microsoft headquarters and a prize of 6,000 Euros.

With all the recent talk around privacy concerns and the role tech giants play, it’s a smart move for Microsoft to approach the apprehensions head-on. It’s particularly timely since President Trump announced an executive order earlier this month outlining a plan on how the country will get ahead of AI and how the government can work directly with AI companies. However, with the public scrutiny of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal and Google’s share of privacy concerns, Microsoft is proving its reputation with no major incidents top-of-mind. The Microsoft Graph provides   another layer to help reassure their commitment to protecting consumer data.

If marketers have been on the fence about tapping into Bing Ads’ potential, there is no greater time to start acting on it than now. Bing’s increased partnerships, addition of MSAN and intelligent solutions, and commitment to ethical responsibilities shouldn’t be underestimated. The odds may not have favored Microsoft products like Bing in the past, but these innovations mean marketers’ investments now will pay high dividends in the future.

PPC: 8 Ways to Avoid Busting Your Advertising Budget

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords budgets if you’re not careful.

tight budget
PPC spending can get awfully fat if you don’t reign it in.

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords PPC budgets if you’re not careful.

If you just started using Google AdWords, then you might be overwhelmed by how quickly you blow through your advertising budgets. You might also be frustrated if this tsunami of traffic isn’t bringing you any actual customers. Sure, launching an AdWords campaign is significantly easier (and faster) than getting organic visitors through traditional SEO strategies, but what’s the point if you’re just throwing money away?

Worry not. Here, we’ll review eight ways to avoid busting your advertising budget with AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms. Follow these tips, and suddenly the rough waters of online advertising become far less treacherous.

1. Bid High, Budget Low

The first step toward not blowing through your budget is to keep your budgets low. Yes, you might still spend money inefficiently at first. But just because you can afford to spend $100 per day doesn’t mean you should. Start with a small daily budget until you know what you’re doing.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to bid high on keywords. Your fledgling campaigns will gain traction more quickly, and you’ll get better click-through rates (and higher quality scores) by driving traffic from your best keywords. With your budgets turned down low, this is a great strategy for launching campaigns on the right note.

2. Avoid Accelerated Delivery

When setting the daily budgets for new campaigns, you’ll have the option to choose Standard or Accelerated ad delivery. Standard is the default option; stick with that.

The Standard delivery option is designed to stagger your ads and expend your budget throughout the entire day. Meanwhile, Accelerated delivery will show your ads until your budget runs dry. By staggering your ad delivery throughout the day, you’ll eventually learn which times are most worthwhile to be advertising. You’re also less likely to burn through your entire budget in the early morning hours when few people actually buy.

3. Use Phrase- and Exact-Match Keywords

Only use phrase- and exact-match keywords when building your primary campaigns. Exact-match keywords will only display your ad when people search for that exact keyword. Phrase-match keywords offer slightly more flexibility — they’ll display your ads when people search for phrases containing your keyword.

Now, I’m not saying you should never use broad-match, but you need to be extremely careful. …

4. Create Separate Broad-Match Campaigns

We just talked about the importance of phrase- and exact-match keywords, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid broad-match keywords entirely. Broad-match keywords result in ads being shown whenever your keywords appear in any order within a search term. For example, if your broad-match keyword is “boys shirts,” and someone searches for “boys uniform shirts,” that person might see your ad. And unless your business happens to specialize in uniforms, that person’s click would be a waste of money.

However, what you can do is start a campaign with a small daily budget and only broad-match keywords. Eventually, you can review your search terms report to see all kinds of search phrases people used to trigger your ads. Some of those keyword terms will likely be irrelevant to your needs — but some might actually be unique or long-tailed keyword terms you hadn’t previously considered. This is how you can “fish” for more keywords, but limit your exposure by using a separate low daily budget campaign.

5. Grow a Negative Keyword List

Let’s go back to that “boys shirts” example. If your business doesn’t sell uniforms, why risk wasting money on that “boys uniform shirts” click? Add the words “uniform” and “uniforms” to your negative keyword list, and your ads will never be shown in response to searches for uniforms.

You should always build out negative keyword lists when launching new campaigns. Then, as you collect data about the exact search terms people use to trigger your ads, you can add to those lists with poorly converting keywords. You can also add terms such as “how to,” “what is” or “reviews” — terms people might use when they’re looking to do research, not make purchases.

6. Bid at the Keyword Level

Adjust your bids on individual keywords, not entire ad groups. Every keyword will have it’s own unique performance and will require it’s own unique bid.

You’ll need higher bids on your most competitive keywords, but you can often get cheaper traffic as you find more unique keyword terms. Adjust your bids accordingly and you can attract more visitors without spending more money.

7. Write Accurate PPC Ads

It’s tempting to say whatever it takes to get clicks on your ad, but a say-anything approach is problematic. For starters, Google can suspend ads (and even lock down campaigns) for dishonest advertising. In addition, people who click on your ads are more likely to bounce from your website if your landing pages don’t meet their expectations. In other words, it pays for your PPC ads to accurately (and honestly) represent what you’re actually offering.

Don’t even try to toe the line between reality and exaggeration. Keep it real and enjoy the stronger conversion rates.

8. Use Remarketing

The Remarketing feature of AdWords displays your ads to people who’ve already visited your website. That means you can limit your ads to only display if the person searching has already visited your website.

If you knew the prospect had already visited your website, then wouldn’t you want to increase your bids to ensure she saw and clicked on your ad versus your competitors? What if you knew that person had already added a product to their shopping cart or viewed a key page in your sales funnel? Chances are you could show a more compelling ad to get that person back to your website to complete the sale.

Conclusion

In the time needed to start a campaign — just a few minutes, if you already have an active account — AdWords can bring waves of visitors to your website. It’s up to you though to not get overwhelmed. Make every dollar you spend on advertising count by following the tips above. Any form of PPC marketing will quickly turn into a colossal waste of money if not properly done. Take the right steps, though, and reaching new customers will have never been easier.

Want more tips to improve your Google AdWords performance? Click here to grab your copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

5 Reasons to Add Bing Ads to Your Search Campaign

Put simply, you shouldn’t ignore Bing Ads just because it’s dwarfed by Google AdWords. Microsoft has invested heavily in Bing’s success and those efforts are paying off. Bing Ads offers a viable alternative option for connecting your business with new, potential customers. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to make Bing Ads part of your long-term marketing plan.

bing logoIt’s easy to overlook Bing Ads when planning your online marketing efforts.

Google is the undisputed king of search with more than $67 billion in ad revenue in 2015 — by comparison, Bing finally achieved profitability in the first quarter of this year with just $1 billion in revenue. To describe Bing Ads as Google’s little brother might be too much of a compliment. Search is Google’s world, and Bing is just living in it.

Still, Bing has proven itself as a viable upstart in the search business. In April 2015, Microsoft renegotiated its contract with Yahoo to allow Bing’s ads to appear on 51 percent of Yahoo desktop searches — a nice boon for Bing’s bottom line. Microsoft also sold Bing’s display network and map data assets, streamlining the platform’s approach toward search. And now Microsoft is broadening Bing’s potential by incorporating it in several emerging products and technologies. You’ve heard of Cortana in Windows 10? Yep, that’s powered by Bing.

What does this mean for you, a small business owner?

Put simply, you shouldn’t ignore Bing Ads just because it’s dwarfed by Google AdWords. Microsoft has invested heavily in Bing’s success and those efforts are paying off. Bing Ads offers a viable alternative option for connecting your business with new, potential customers. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to make Bing Ads part of your long-term marketing plan.

1. Bing Ads Are Often Cheaper and More Effective

As you could probably guess, most advertisers turn to Google. AdWords is really your only option for reaching the largest number of consumers with the least amount of effort.

Bing is much smaller than Google in terms of reach and revenue — which also means there are far fewer advertisers on Bing’s search network. And that means less competition for marketers who want a piece of Bing’s action. And less competition means cheaper costs per click — up to 33 percent less, according to some studies.

Not only is Bing usually cheaper, but advertisers also get higher ad positions than they would on Google’s more crowded search network. And higher ad placements usually result in higher click-through rates and conversions! Even though Bing doesn’t reach nearly as many people, these benefits are enough to make Microsoft’s ad platform attractive.

2. Bing Ads Let You Effectively Cut Off Tablets

Google caused a collective groan from PPC marketers by taking away the ability to block traffic from tablets. In Google’s eyes, tablets are the future of home computing and should be treated the same as desktops. For everyone else, tablets are giant smartphones both in how they function and how people use them — and that means lower CTRs and conversions than desktop searches.

Similar to Google, Bing has altered its device targeting options so tablets and smartphones can’t be completely turned off. However, Bing allows for incremental bids to be set on both types of mobile devices. Want to turn off tablets? Simply set your incremental bids on tablet traffic to decrease by a substantial percentage. It’s not a bulletproof way to ensure you’ll block all tablet traffic, but at least you won’t spend much money on the few clicks that slip through.

3. Bing Ads Let You Choose Your Partners

Want to choose between advertising on Google or its search partners? Well, you can’t. Google doesn’t let you choose one or the other. Either way, you’re stuck with Google’s primary network. You also don’t get to see which search partners might be running your ads. This is a problem because, while search partners often provide cheaper clicks, sometimes that traffic drastically underperforms.

Bing, on the other hand, gives you complete control. You can advertise only on Bing and Yahoo, or only with search partners — or you can run your ads on all platforms. Also, if you choose to target search partners, you can run reports to see exactly who those partners are. You can then take the additional step of blocking underperforming partners from running your ads. It’s a fantastic benefit that can make search partner targeting so much more worthwhile. And you can’t get that with AdWords.

4. Bing Ads Give You More Control Over Demographics

AdWords allows plenty of demographic targeting options for the Google Display Network, but demographic targeting isn’t an option for search network advertisers by default. Note that it’s possible to get demographic targeting for Search, but you need to go through a Google rep to get it turned on in your account.

Bing Ads, on the other hand, offers both gender and age targeting options by default. This is handled similarly to device targeting — rather than completely block certain demographics, you can decrease bids to specific demographics to effectively exclude them from your campaigns. These adjustments are made at either the campaign or ad group levels, giving you the ability to split test different ad groups with unique demographic targeting settings.

5. Bing Ads Are More In Tune With Social Extensions

A strong social media following is a strong indication of being an online authority — and that’s why Bing started testing social extensions back in 2014. If your business has a large Twitter following, then Bing’s automated social extensions will display your number of Twitter followers alongside your ad. It’s a meaningful extension that can boost your ad’s credibility and help drive conversions.

AdWords also has social extensions, but only for Google Plus. And who uses Google Plus? It’s no secret that Google has bent over backward pushing its social media platform, but Bing’s social extension provides a much more meaningful and socially relevant benefit.

Want more Google AdWords Tips?  Click here to get the Ultimate AdWords checklist.