How do you find something on the Internet? You Google it.

The fact that Google’s brand name has become interchangeable with the word “search” in the context of the Web is a big problem for Microsoft Corp. It launched Bing in 2009, with hopes the name would elicit association with finding the right answer (like buzzing in on a game show). Today Google search still dominates the Canadian market, with 67 per cent market share according to comScore Inc. Bing has improved Microsoft’s market share since replacing its Live Search brand, but still doesn’t claim even half of what Google delivers.

So when deciding where to advertise online, it seems like Google is the obvious choice for marketers. It has a larger audience, so it can deliver more clicks to a given keyword campaign, right? Well not in every situation, it turns out. Plus, there are certain circumstances where Bing Ads can cost less than Google’s AdWords and still get you the same results.

Microsoft has been working to improve the Bing advertising experience. Microsoft says it seen a 25 percent increase in click volume to Bing Ads globally in the past year. It’s also been investing in advertising the platform on TV and online, challenging users to compare it to Google’s results in a blind test.

But is it really worth spending your search engine marketing dollars? We asked Scott Wilson, CEO of RankHigher.ca if there were any advantages. RankHigher.ca has certified 14 of its staff to be Bing Ads Accredited, more than any other Bing partner. It’s no secret that he likes Bing, and he gives some examples of where advertisers can get more bang for their buck using Bing Ads instead of Google AdWords.

You’ll pay less for the same keywords

First of all, if you already have a Google AdWords campaign running then you can migrate it to Bing with a simple import tool that’s offered. In the past, the process to set up a campaign was overly complicated, but Wilson says those days are gone.

“The labour cost to get a Bing campaign up and going is less than one hour,” he says.

Because there are also fewer businesses advertising on Bing right now, you may get a lower price point on the keywords you’re targeting. Just like on AdWords, Bing Ads awards the display of an advertisement based on which advertiser is willing to pay the most for the keywords at the specific time a user conducts a search. Advertisers are competing to buy keywords by bidding against each other.

“If less people show up at an auction, then things get sold off at a lower price,” Wilson says. “The cost per click is significantly less.”

The other upside of fewer advertisers is there will be less competitors showing up alongside your ad on the results page. That means a higher chance of seeing a click-through by a searcher.

There’s enough inventory for small-budget campaigns

With improvements made to Bing and a concerted effort by Microsoft to advertise it, it has been gaining more market share. That means that there will be enough traffic to meet your quota in many situations.

Wilson gives an example: say your search advertising budget is $1,000 per month. Bing will easily deliver that amount of traffic, just as AdWords can. If the keywords you want cost less on Bing and there’s enough traffic in your industry on Bing, then put most of your budget into Bing Ads. You’ll get a better return on investment.

Still, don’t expect you can scale the results on Bing without limit. Wilson saw one customer wanting to spend $2,000 per month unable to buy that amount of clicks.

More improvements to come

Bing is continuing to improve its service, Microsoft says.

Ads targeting Canada will see Sitelink Extensions available in mid-2013. This will allow advertisers to display up to 10 more pages from their Web site at the top of search results pages. Pilot markets have seen a 15 to 25 per cent increase in click-through rates using this, Microsoft says.

Also coming soon to Canada will be the opening of Bing Ads to online gambling customers, such as lotteries, online casinos, and sports betting. This will be a new market for Bing Ads.

Best to take advantage of less expensive keywords on Bing while you  can, Wilson says. The situation may not last forever.

“The better natural organic results that Bing gives, the more people will use it,” he says. That will drive up the cost of keywords as more advertisers jump on board.

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  • tecbiznet

    Perhaps it cost less but you cannot compare it with the Google Marketing dominance on the web. Because google is more than just a web search. So every penny spent on Google is worth it.

    • Yeah but like Google Bing and Partner Yahoo are far from just being search engines. If Bing figures out how to deliver the product they dream of developing in a publisher capable system they could soon take over content marketing thanks to Google playing games on what percentage they pay pubs for each click so they can make millions for higher traffic sites while Joe Blogger who don’t buy Adwords makes slim to nothing.

  • The benefits of Google go well beyond search advertising. Smart dollars are saved on the content publishers network bidding for placement there over JUST Search which only touches Google Owned properties.

  • My bounce rate is typically 50-52% but when I ran a BING campaign
    (stopped running Google Adwords) for 6 days the rate catapulted to
    80.88%. Yep Bing’s cheaper but I got whacked by the bounce rate.

    Now let’s talk about the quality of the prospects I got… I’ll be writing a
    blog about my “bing, bang, bomb” experience in mid-August (and yes, I ran the same
    ad/keywords, times/weekdays etc. it was an apples-to-apples for sure)

  • MiramarOne.com

    Bing Ads provides relevant, targeted and if configured and optimized correctly can in my opinion of course bring a more ‘refined’ breed of searcher and purchaser. Let me sight an example, my dad uses Yahoo, my mom uses MSN and my boss uses Yahoo – they are all in their 50’s and are key players with online business spend. My friends and colleagues use Google. Their in the 20’s and 30’s. As the saying goes, only the rich can afford to be young. It does feel that the affluent ones tend to use perhaps the old favorites of Yahoo and MSN. But this is all entirely non scientific of course (Ted – MiramarOne)

  • Greg Timms

    Not to mention that while that dash board may look like a replica of Google’s dashboard, in terms of functionality, it can be a confused mess full of dead ends with non intuitive solutions.