Due to the sheer dominance of Google in the German search landscape a lot of search marketers are still neglecting Bing Ads for their search marketing portfolio – a huge mistake imho! Bing Ads has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Ever since adCenter got rechristened Bing Ads in 2012, the platform has been continually improved and tweaked. Despite the growing popularity, many advertisers remain unaware of the opportunities they’re missing out on by neglecting Bing Ads. I recently had the chance to catch up with Bing Search Evangelist Christi Olsen (you should also follow her on Twitter):
You have taken over the role as Search Evangelist at Microsoft from Duane Forrester. Can you tell us a little what a Microsoft Search Evangelist does?
The Search Evangelist role is exciting to me because I get the opportunity to represent Bing [and Microsoft] within the search industry, both in written publications and at industry events. There have been two well-known Search Evangelists for Microsoft in the past, John Gagnon for paid search and Duane Forrester for organic search and webmaster tools. My role is a hybrid, because I have over a decade of experience in both SEM and SEO, so I like to joke that I’m the John-Duane of Bing representing both organic and paid search. If I hadn’t gone into marketing I would have become a teacher and this role provides me the best of both worlds – I’m still working on a marketing team for a product that is great and I get to teach other markets while sharing my love and passion for all things digital. I love that part of my role is to engage with other marketers, understanding their wants, needs, likes and dislikes so I can represent their voice to our internal teams and help drive and inform product changes.
In the U.S., Bing Ads show up not only on Bing but also on Yahoo! for a quite juicy part of search share. In Germany though, Google is pretty much dominating the search market. Why should German search marketers also add Bing Ads to their PPC-marketing arsenal?
The quick answer to why should you advertise on Bing in addition to Google is the opportunity to reach a growing unique audience that tends to conduct more diverse searches (tail terms) that have a strong intent to purchase. Wow, that sounds like a mouthful and a bit like corporate jargon, right? Before I took the role as the Search Evangelist I was the head of search at Seattle based ad agency and I would recommend that all of our clients, both in the U.S. and internationally, advertise on Bing for the following reasons:
Advertise in all of the locations where your customers are. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to reach customers, and miss out on potential sales, because it’s easier to advertise in a single place. Just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s the right or best solution.
Bing tends to convert better. For most of our clients we saw higher conversion rates and lower CPAs on Bing – the audience on Bing is different from the audience on Google. The users tended to be slightly older and have higher incomes.
In March comScore reported that the Bing Partner network represented 7.8% of market share in Germany. While we’ve got quite a bit of room to grow to catch up to Google, we have seen that Bing’s market share in Germany has doubled in the last 12 months fueled by Windows 10. We’re expecting to see continuous growth in both search share and audience as more and more users continue to adopt Windows 10. Globally we’re seeing Bing generate 30% more queries with Windows 10 compared to previous operating systems and our new browser, Microsoft Edge is driving more loyalty to Bing with 90% of Edge users keep Bing as their default search engine. This means more reach and more results to our advertisers.
By advertising on the Bing Partner network you can reach 19M unique searchers in Germany that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. We also see that the searches on Bing aren’t just a smaller subset of searches on Google — In the U.S. roughly 33% of queries on the Bing Network are not found or infrequently searched on Google. These unique queries drive approximately 25% of ad clicks on the Bing network, and these queries tend to be tail terms with significant consumer purchase intent. If a company isn’t advertising on Bing they are missing the opportunity on tens of millions of potential clicks and sales.
Are there specific verticals that are strong with Bing Ads in Germany?
We see traffic across all verticals on Bing in Germany, but the retail and travel verticals tend to drive the highest volume of clicks.
Something I find interesting is a reframing of the question to understand which industries see unique queries on Bing. This is your opportunity as an advertiser to mirror your Google accounts onto Bing and then optimize your keywords to take advantage of the fact that Bing searchers tend to do longer tail queries. While I don’t have the breakdown of unique search queries for the German marketplace, I want to share what we see in the United States to provide some directional insight. The chart below shows the U.S. breakdown by industry of how the unique searches translate to your industry and what percentage of paid clicks delivered to advertised based on exclusive Bing queries.
How does Bing Ads calculate quality score differently than Google?
That’s a great question because both Google and Bing are ambiguous about the exact formula for calculating quality score; however both use the same elements (also referred to as quality score sub-factors) expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page relevance, and measure quality score on a scale of 1-10. While I can’t divulge the exact formula that Bing uses to determine how it calculates quality score, I can share with you that relevance is key for quality score across both search engines. In general if one or more sub-factors is Below Average your quality score will most likely be a 5 or lower, if all sub-factors are average your quality score will most likely be a 6, and if all three sub-factors are above average your quality score will most likely be between 7 – 10. The chart below from Martin Roettgerding is a great example of the breakdown of potential quality score sub-factors and how they influence quality score.
Something else that I’ve found that confuses even the most experienced search marketers is that Bing and Google use Quality Score for different purposes. Google uses quality score as part of Ad Rank to determine the keyword level CPC and ad position. Bing uses quality score as an indication of competitiveness within the overall Bing marketplace. On Bing the quality score provided for each keywords should help you understand the relevance of the keyword to the search query and to let you know if your ads are eligible to be displayed. Here is the overall quick “cheat sheet” to some of the nuances for Bing Quality Score:
- It is based on “Exact Match” in the last 30 days (For Bing’s International Markets, like Germany, the Quality Score of Broad and Phrase match keywords can be slightly lower than their exact match counterparts due to query mapping.)
- Quality Score on Bing is updated daily, between 14-18 hours after end of day UTC
- Campaign and Ad Group Quality Scores are calculated as the impression weighted average of the keywords within the same group which have received impressions in the previous 30 days
- Quality score is used to determine if an ad is eligible to be displayed within the Bing Partner Network
Regardless of the differences between Quality Score on Google and Bing the end goal is the same: provide users with the best experience and search results possible.
The share of mobile searches in Germany is continuously rising. In 2013 it was 12% and in 2014 it was already 19% of all searches. Where are we now? Are you able to target only mobile or desktop searches with Bing Ads?
In Germany approximately 16% of of Bing’s traffic is coming from Mobile devices. We’re constantly Bing currently allows advertisers to set device specific bid modifiers between -20% and +300%. In light of Google’s announcement in May about updating their device targeting capabilities I would expect to see Bing make similar types of updates so that AdWords accounts can continue to be imported into Bing.
For advertisers with specific questions about search volume by device I’d recommend using this free tool to breakdown search volume by device, industry and European market.
What are the latest developments and new product features at Bing Ads?
Remarketing has been available in Germany since last fall; however when I was at SMX Munich quite a few of the search marketers spoke with hadn’t installed UET to start building their audience lists for Bing so they couldn’t start using remarketing features. It was shocking to me because remarketing is one of my favorite search features. I love the variety of opportunities with the Target and Bid functionality to include or even exclude (-90% bid modifier) specific audiences and then customize the messaging and landing pages. The possibilities with how you can use remarketing to improve your overall performance is endless.
Bing Shopping campaigns are essential in the eCommerce space, making it easier for you to promote your products online while attracting more attention from customers. The product ad format can help you own more real estate within the SERP and stands out due to the visual nature of the ads with rich images, text, pricing and your company name. You can import Google Shopping campaigns directly into Bing, making it easy to get started on Bing right away. The only caveat is that there are a few differences between the shopping feed attribute fields that are supported between Google and Bing, so make sure your feed is compatible before importing.
What’s next for Bing Ads in Germany?
One of the most asked for features has been a Bing Ads editor for Mac, we’ve heard the feedback and our engineers have been working hard to bring it to market and I’m excited to say that it will be coming to Germany soon. We also know that being able to import campaigns directly from AdWords is important, so we’ll be releasing support features for upgraded URLs and the expanded text ads soon as well. In the more distant future look for feature releases for Labels, App Install Ads, Enhanced CPC bidding, and Bing Ads content packs for Power BI. That last item – the Bing Ads content pack for Power BI is something to keep on your radar – Power BI is a great reporting tool that we use to create custom dashboards and reports, you’ll be hearing more from me in the next few months about how you can automate and share reports using Power BI.
Can you share your top 3 tips for running successful PPC campaigns with Bing Ads?
Tip 1: Don’t import it and forget it – Go into your Bing Ads account or bid optimization tools and optimize performance. It sounds silly, but I know that it happens more often than PPC pro’s want to admit, they import their campaigns from Google [because it’s quick and easy] but then they don’t optimize their Bing campaigns. Also, don’t just do bid optimization – look at your search query reports often and add positive and negative keywords!
Tip 2: Audit and Update your campaigns when you import them from Google to Bing– Not all of the settings on Bing are the same as on Google. Don’t make these common mistakes when importing your campaigns.
- Enable Auto-Tagging to ensure your URLs have the right UTM parameters! It seems silly to mention this, but when I was at the ad agency and conducting audits I can’t even begin to tell you how often I would see utm_source=google within the Bing accounts. Keep your analytics and attribution data accurate by enabling Auto-Tagging.
- Take advantage of unique targeting options on Bing: Search Partner targeting – Bing provides transparency into search partner performance. Opt into partners and then view the performance to determine if any should be excluded based on performance in order to save money and improve CPA. Exclude poor performing partners under the Campaign Settings and Website Exclusions option. Demographic Targeting within Search: Bing offers demographic targeting for age and gender within the search network, at both the campaign and ad group level, allowing you to set bid modifiers from -90% to +900%.
- Differences between Google and Bing Time of Day Targeting: On Bing the time of day scheduling is based on the location of the person viewing your ads. On Google it’s based on the time zone specified by the advertiser. Make sure your adjust your ad scheduling settings from imported campaigns to accurately reflect the right time zone for your ads to show!
- Review your negative keyword lists: Bing does not allow broad match negative keywords. When you import from Google these keywords get automatically converted to phrase match. Check your negative keyword lists and monitor your search query reports to see if you need to add in additional negative keywords.
Tip 3: Use BMM to expand into the TAIL – I mentioned earlier that roughly 33% of queries on Bing are unique to Bing and that our users tend to use longer search queries than on Google. Expand your reach by using broad modified keywords so you don’t miss out on those tail queries that are unique to Bing. Then use your search query reports to add in positive and negative keywords based on their performance.
Bonus Tips 4/5: Kill it with REMARKETING! Set up UET campaigns and start building your audience lists. One of my favorite tactics is to mirror campaigns and exclude specific audiences so I can either be more specific with how I optimize campaigns, reach consumers, or set unique messaging/landing pages. For example, I was managing a SEM account for an online training company whose goal was to get net-new sign-ups. I created an audience list for users who had signed into their accounts and then essentially excluded these users across all of my campaigns by placing a -90% bid modifier against the audience. Similarly, I created audiences for individuals who had been to the site and signed up for a free trial but did not convert to a paid account, and then targeted them with a discount offer and was able to boost the conversion rate of free trial to paid subscribers enough to justify the discounted service. Remarketing let’s you do this and so much more.
Thank you very much Christi for the insightful interview!