Does Anyone Even Use Bing?
As digital marketers we tend to hear this question on a weekly basis, if not more often. And while the mere idea that Bing exists is enough to shatter the worldview of many Google nerds/religious Chrome users, the reality is that there’s a very large portion of the population that prefers Bing (this includes those folks using it by the default settings of their devices – whether they realize it’s Bing or not). So yes, people out there are using Bing. And you should be happy about that.
Why? This segment of the Internet audience is often left untouched by the reaches of digital campaigns for several reasons:
- “No one uses Bing, I’m not spending money there. Not once, not ever.” – Client/Boss X
- “My customers don’t use Bing.” – Client/Boss Y
- “Google is working well for me, I don’t want to take budget away to test on Bing.” – Client/Boss Z
- “I’ve never tried Bing Ads before. I don’t know if it’s worth it/I don’t want to learn a new platform/It’s too much work to start anew after everything I’ve done with my AdWords campaigns.” – You?
While it’s hard to argue with a boss or client who feels firmly about bullet 1, 2 or 3, you wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t try to advocate for at least testing on the platform. If you’re familiar with Bing and the potential for success on the network, you’re likely already pushing for it. But let’s say you’ve never tried advertising there… enter bullet number 4.
Making the Case for Bing Ads
Some marketers steer clear of Bing because the platform can be clunky (it’s gotten better), some of the targeting begrudgingly different (as you’ll see below), or simply due to the fact that it just feels foreign. Because so many people have the anti-Bing, or at least the forgot-about-Bing mentality, it tends to be a less competitive marketplace. Take advantage.
Aaaaand maybe there’s a little truth to the fact that the average Bing user is a little less savvy than most. This could actually be huge for you depending on who your target demo is. Maybe the product/service you’re selling lends itself very nicely to these type of folks. Again, take advantage.
Maybe you don’t think your audience is on Bing at all – and you might be right – but it’s 100% worth finding out. Before we go any further, I have to lay down the age-old caveat that all campaigns are different and past results do not guarantee future outcomes. But you’re a digital marketer and you have the power of data on your side. You have the freedom to test out new ad networks and keep rolling where it makes sense, pausing where it doesn’t. I’ve seen 4x ROI on Bing Ads versus AdWords for identical campaigns… and this was all based off of a “let’s just see if we can get any traction first and go from there” type of a conversation.
My point? It’s worth testing out Bing Ads even if you think your audience isn’t there. The data will show if it’s not there, and then you can shut it down. But hopefully the data will show that your audience is on Bing, and you can make gains from it. The only way to get the data though, is to run a test.
And for all the haters out there that don’t think it’s worth their time to set up a Bing campaign on the off chance it flops, there’s a painless solution. Takes minutes, if not seconds.
Importing AdWords Campaigns into Bing
You heard right! Bing Ads has a feature which allows you to import existing AdWords campaigns right into the Bing platform. This means you can easily pull in a campaign you’ve already put the work into building out with minimal additional effort.
This is an amazing option when you need to get up and running fast, but like any shortcut in life there are some drawbacks:
- Certain settings will not be imported with the campaign – automated rules will need to be recreated in Bing. And multiple language targeting is not supported in the same manner as it is in AdWords, so you’ll need to duplicate your ad groups (much like the AdWords counterpart, Bing Ads Editor tool makes bulk changes easier) and set up targeting separately. These are only two examples, a more extensive list of what does and doesn’t import can be found here.
- Imported keywords cannot be edited – attributes like bid and match type can be adjusted, but if you want to change the keyword itself you’ll need to pause the imported version and create a new keyword.
There’s one incredible thing that happens automatically upon import though, and this is a lifesaver especially in those trying-to-get-done-fast-I’m-going-to-forget-small-details moments. If the URLs in the ads you’re importing have UTM parameters appended to them, Bing will automatically swap “AdWords” or “Google” in the source field for “Bing.” Nice, huh? Tell me about it.
Note that Bing Ads will only import the standard parameters on your final URLs, it will not import any custom parameters you have set in AdWords.
So load your favorite AdWords campaign into Bing and get ready…
AdWords vs. Bing Ads: The Nitty-Gritty
My amazing colleague, Sarah Burke, once said
Google is like the person that has it all together but is too conservative sometimes, and Bing is like the party friend who is open to anything but is a hot mess.
She was totally right. But it’s not because Bing is a wild animal out there spending your pay-per-click budget willy-nilly while AdWords holds on tight and barely lets clicks come through. No, it’s because the networks are so similar that it can be easy to lose sight of what sets them apart. AdWords and Bing Ads might seem like carbon copies of one another on the surface, but the two are quite different when looking at how campaigns are set up and managed.
Fine-tuning one platform and copying everything to the other is a good way to start, but the work is not complete. Remember, these are two different ad networks and they are not the same. This is a good thing though. If every ad platform worked in identical ways and reached identical people, the world would be boring (and results would flat line).
So what makes Bing so different from AdWords? For the most part it’s all about the subtleties.
We’ve been keeping a running list of the small differences (with potentially big consequences) between the two ad platforms for a while now. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Ad budgets are the guiding force behind any campaign setup, and both Bing Ads and AdWords have users set budgets at the campaign level. Budget options, however, vary by platform.
AdWords requires users to select a daily limit for their spending, and that’s the only option available. Bing Ads is a little more flexible here as it allows advertisers to choose between setting daily or monthly budget limits.
This is another area where AdWords gives only one option while Bing offers two. Location targeting in AdWords must be set at the campaign level. Period. With Bing Ads, location targeting is set at the campaign level too. But you’ve also got the option to set target locations at the ad group level (which trumps the campaign-level location settings for this particular ad group), giving advertisers a bit more flexibility.
Ad Network Distribution
Where ads are actually shown throughout the web is a key concern to digital marketers. Just like with AdWords search campaigns, the option to serve ads on “partner sites” (AKA non-search engines) is available in Bing Ads. But the verbiage in the ad network distribution setting is quite different between platforms. Long story short, the below two settings mean the same thing (only show my ads in the actual search engine results please):
Aside from how these options are worded, a key difference to note is the location of this setting. In AdWords, ad network distribution is set at the campaign level. In Bing Ads, you have to set this option at the ad group level. Big difference there!
This is an interesting one. Hold on tight, your mind might be blown shortly…
When running an ad schedule in AdWords, the dayparting is based solely on the time zone specified by the advertiser at the time of account creation (which can’t be changed). That means if you’re in New York and running ads in California, if you set ads to serve only 9am – 5pm, that’s Eastern my friend. So the folks you’re targeting in the Golden State will see the ads from 6am – 2pm, rather than the hours you likely intended. Of course once you know this about AdWords, you just have to do the math every time you set up an ad schedule, no big deal.
Bing Ads however, is much different. And I mean much. How does dayparting work on Bing? “Targeting times are based on the location of the person searching for or viewing your ad.” That’s an exact quote from Bing Ads and personally, I think it’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever “said.” There’s no math, no scratching your head wondering what time zone City X is located in, and what time it is there. Beautiful stuff.
Simply put – AdWords offers labels, Bing Ads does not. I know, I know. If you’re used to keeping those giant campaigns of yours super-organized via labeling, you’re going to need to find another way in Bing. Sorry Charlies.
Womp womp. This is another area where Bing falls a bit short of AdWords. While AdWords supports a variety of sizes as well as formats for image ads, Bing Ads doesn’t offer a single one. If you want to run any ads on Bing’s Content Network (if you’re an AdWords person this is similar to Google’s Display Network), you’ll need to do so in the traditional text ad format.
It should be noted that while Bing Ads doesn’t offer full-on image ads like you’re used to seeing in AdWords display, the platform does support image extensions for your text ads.
Both AdWords and Bing offer call extensions, location extensions, sitelink extensions, and recommend using relevant targeting options to better serve the mobile audience. So where do the platforms differ when it comes to mobile?
If you’re like me, you’re likely already separating out campaigns based on the devices you’re targeting to keep a healthy budget allocated between your mobile and desktop/tablet visitors. But what about those campaigns where you just want to capture everyone regardless of device? (I have those too, it’s ok!) Well, on AdWords you can specify a final URL specific to mobile on the same ad as a final URL meant for desktop traffic. Handy.
Unfortunately, Bing Ads doesn’t offer this to everyone quite yet (myself included, wah). Upgraded URL options (similar to what’s available in AdWords) are rolling out slowly, but many accounts still do not have this feature… more on this later. So for now any campaigns where you may be targeting all devices on AdWords, you’ll want to build out separate campaigns on Bing for mobile and desktop (assuming you want to send users to different landing pages based on device). It’s no big deal in theory, but if you imported campaigns into Bing from AdWords, you’ll want to make sure you tweak this before going live!
If you’re one of the lucky few with this feature already available to you in the Bing Ads interface, completely ignore the above and do a little celebratory dance!
Any effective campaign has negative keywords; they’re just as important as the keywords you’re targeting. And much like AdWords, the Bing Ads interface allows you to set these negatives at the ad group, campaign, or list (applied to multiple campaigns) level. But how those negative keywords are treated varies between the two networks.
In Google AdWords, when you apply a negative keyword, that’s it. The negative will block searches for that term even if that means blocking a query for one of your keywords. Of course AdWords will warn you with a keyword conflict notification, but if you don’t remove or reconfigure that negative keyword, it will continue to block searches whether you’re targeting that term or not.
The really nice thing about Bing though, is that keywords trump negatives. Yep. If you add a negative keyword to your campaign (or ad group) and it’s included in one of your target keywords, your ad will still show for related queries. So if you’re running ads for a service that isn’t offered in Indiana, and you’ve got “IN” as a negative keyword, your ad can still show for your target keyword of “service x in Florida.” Of course best practice says that you shouldn’t be blocking the keywords you’re targeting, but in very large campaigns it can be easy to slip up – especially when using lists applied to multiple campaigns. Bing Ads has your back here.
Location Targeting For Non-Search Ads
Location, location, location. Most digital advertisers use location targeting in their campaigns to make sure the right ads are being seen by the right audience. As mentioned above, the places where this setting is set is different in AdWords versus Bing. But there’s another key difference between the platforms’ location settings that affect ads placement. And in my opinion, Bing falls a bit short on this one.
In AdWords, if you want to show your ads on the Display Network you’re 100% free to do so in the geographic locations you’re targeting for the campaign. With Bing Ads though, you can only show your ads on the Content Network if you’re targeting the entire US. This is right about where I start to think of Sarah’s party-animal friend Bing as a negative rather than applauding the network for being free-spirited. C’mon Bing, stop showing your ads to the whole country, I only wanted New Yorkers to see them…
As I alluded to above, one of the big items setting AdWords and Bing apart right now – for many accounts at least – are tracking templates or the lack thereof. If you’re an AdWords user, you’re likely quite familiar with the upgraded URL options and tracking templates available which make it easier to manage your tracking parameters at scale.
This is a relatively new feature even as far as AdWords is concerned, so as you can imagine Bing Ads is working on rolling out a very similar feature… but it hasn’t reached the masses yet. Be patient, it’s coming.
Single vs. Multiple Tracking Codes
AdWords and Bing Ads share many similarities when it comes to conversions, such as the maximum length of the conversion window, ability to assign a value, etc. But there’s one important distinction between the two: how the conversion tracking code is implemented on your site.
With AdWords, you have the option of tying Google Analytics goals into your conversions and using those to measure PPC success, or you can use the AdWords-specific conversion tracking code to count conversion actions. If you go with the latter, you’ll need to configure each type of conversion (assuming you have multiple) separately and a unique conversion tracking tag will be generated for each of these conversions. You’ll need to place that tag specifically on the page where the conversion occurs (Google Tag Manager can help you do this without assistance from your development team).
With Bing however, things work slightly differently. Bing Ads uses what’s called the Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag to track conversions. If you’re familiar with the Facebook Ads pixel, it’s a similar implementation. If you’re not familiar, here’s how it works: the UET tag is placed across your entire website. You’ll then need to create specific conversion goals within the Bing Ads interface that will be tracked by this universal tag. Similarly to how Google Analytics goals function, you can set up a conversion goal in a number of ways, some of which require alteration of the UET tag on specific pages (again – great place to be using Tag Manager to save yourself some headache). Configuring these goals could be the topic of an entirely separate blog post, so I’ll leave it at that.
There You Have It
Really when it all boils down, AdWords and Bing Ads are more similar to each other than any other ad platforms out there. And once you master one, it’s not too difficult to learn the ways of the other. Now that you’re armed with the key differences that some of us had to stumble upon to learn, it should be smooth(ish) sailing when you go to fire up your first Bing Ads campaign.
If you run into any other slightly (or completely) different settings, features, or functions between AdWords and Bing Ads in your travels, please share them in the comments below!
Need a second pair of eyes? Feeling totally overwhelmed with your Bing Ads or AdWords account? Give us a shout. We’d love to help you make the most out of your paid search campaigns.