By Elmalla A. on October 10, 2017
Originally written for Funnel Advertising.
Which network offers the better value ?
As an agency, we use both Google AdWords and Bing Ads for our clients as standard practice. We see mixed result across both platforms, depending on the account we’re working on, so it’s difficult to identify trends in the differences between the two networks, when we’re trying to optimise campaigns. Because both networks are treated differently, unless using an ad-exchange, it’s rare that like-for-like campaigns across the networks mirror each other in terms of set-up. So, when a new client shared their concerns about Bing advertising proving expensive from them in the past, I recommended that we trialled a new campaign structure that was identical to those that were already working on Google. Once this was agreed, three campaigns were created in Bing which mirrored the three that were enabled in Google AdWords. This approach doesn’t always work, however it was a good starting point in this case as the Bing activity was failing to meet its objectives. After running all campaigns simultaneously for 45 days, the results were analysed and the difference between the two networks was significant.
Prelude: Bing Isn't Dead
Markets exist regardless of our personal preferences. Bing is very much alive. Sure, their market share isn't as big as Google's, but it's still worth your attention. Which brings me to my next point...
It’s safe to assume you won’t be able to spend the same amount of money on Bing Ads that you do on Google AdWords. Budgets fluctuate by industry, but we typically see Bing budgets between 20% - 35% of the equivalent spend on AdWords.
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But what Bing lacks in volume, it makes up for in performance.
Generally speaking, you get more for your dollar on Bing Ads. Here's a picture of a few campaigns and their performance on each platform.
These are the same campaigns. They run in the same locations with the same ad schedule. They target the same keywords. Their ads and corresponding landing pages are identical. Oh – I almost forgot. We've been optimizing these AdWords campaigns for the last 12 months. The identical Bing Ads campaigns? They've only been live for two. Yet the clicks are still cheaper and our clickthrough rates are higher. This isn't a unique situation; this is a trend across accounts. You're probably thinking, “Cheap clicks sound great, but only if they're good clicks!” Good point. Let's talk about that.
All advertising platforms will eat your lunch money if you let them. For AdWords, it's often hidden in their advanced settings (hint: they're not advanced). For Bing Ads, it's their search partners. These are search websites outside of Bing and Yahoo, but still a part of the Bing Ads network (e.g. duckduckgo.com, slickdeals.net, etc). The audience quality specifically from Bing, Yahoo, and AOL is great. The audience quality from Bing Ads search partners tends to vary. In this regard AdWords is better – their search partners seem to offer better traffic. You can opt out of search partners on both Bing Ads and AdWords, but there are two options Bing Ads has that AdWords doesn't. Transparency – Bing Ads will show you the websites where your ads are running. They'll even let you exclude poorly performing ones. Segmentation – You may be able to opt out of search partners on both platforms, but on Bing Ads, you can run a campaign exclusively on search partners. If you're worried about poor traffic, just set low bids.
Conversion tracking is tricky in Bing Ads. Setup isn't easy, though it's not entirely their fault. Google makes it easy to integrate Google products. Bing is a competitor, so integrating Bing Ads with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics isn't nearly as smooth. Regardless, we see better conversion rates from Bing. Cost per conversion is cheaper as well.
During this trial, Bing produced a far more economical performance than Google, but we know that this isn’t always the case. I, like many PPC managers, have had scenarios where Google has proved to be the most cost-effective network. However, the key takeaway is not to dismiss Bing Ads before giving it a chance. Despite having a much smaller search engine market share, and a less advanced interface than Google’s, I strongly believe it’s worth investing the time and effort in running some Bing Ad activity. You might gain similar, or even better, results.