Knowing where to focus your online marketing budget can be tough, with multiple service providers vying for competition, each boasting individual merits that promise a sizable return on investment. Pay-per-click advertising has taken centre stage in recent years, blooming into a multi-billion dollar industry that can almost guarantee success, with savvy marketers able to edit and refine various PPC attributes until they deliver results.
Google AdWords and Microsoft’s Bing Ads are the frontrunners in the world of paid search, but which platform is best for your business? Let’s take a closer look at how they compare…
Next In Line?
Google has long reigned supreme as the undisputed king of search engines, so AdWords has naturally been the first port of call for those wanting to cash-in on sponsored listings. However, Bing has recently emerged as a serious contender to the throne, claiming 21 percent market share for desktop search results in the U.S, gradually eating away at Google’s dominance.
This doesn’t quite tell the full story, though, as Bing Ads also appear on Yahoo searches (12 percent market share), taking their combined total reach to 33 percent. Google still holds 64 percent of the market, giving AdWords almost double the audience of its rival, but there should be no doubt that Bing is steadily catching up with the king.
With twice the reach, AdWords is likely to secure a higher number of impressions for your marketing campaign, but this also means higher competition when bidding on keywords; a portion of the one million registered users are likely to be your direct competitors, jostling for pole position in the rankings, so the cost-per-click will (usually) be comparatively higher on AdWords than Bing Ads.
That being said, putting your brand in front of a wider audience may well justify the extra expense and prove to be better value — sales will always be a numbers game, after all — but the two PPC heavyweights offer much greater functionality than a simple ‘if we build it, they will come’ attitude, allowing you to optimize your ads in various ways.
Let’s consider the individual features of each:
AdWords Location Targeting
A key advantage that AdWords holds over its young pretender is the ability to restrict searches to geo-specific areas, using Location Targeting that is much more advanced than Bing’s alternative. This enables you to focus solely on people nearby, perfect for small, local businesses. When used in conjunction with Google Maps, you’ll be impossible to miss.
Bing Ads Demographic Targeting
Using the demographics tab in campaign settings, Bing allows you to dictate gender preferences and set age ranges for all ads, whereas AdWords only lets you specify this level of detail for display and video ads, not search ads.
You can’t completely stop the wrong crowd from seeing your advert, but you can opt to increase bid adjustments for individual groups by as much as 300 percent, or decrease by 90 percent. So if you’re selling a product that is strongly aimed at a certain audience, you have slightly more control with Bing.
User-friendly interface with AdWords
PPC advertising isn’t the most intuitive of tasks, with many variables to master, but the general consensus is that Google’s platform is easier to navigate for beginners. The multiple features are clearly laid out and AdWords benefits by easily connecting to Google Analytics, allowing you to track customer journeys with ease.
Bing’s Web analytics are essentially the same, but many people will be familiar with Google Analytics because it’s the most commonly used tool for tracking Web traffic and understanding visitor behavior on your site. You can also connect GA to track Bing Ads, but the process is much more straightforward with AdWords.
Image Extensions for Bing Ads
Essentially, Extensions act as additional ad space, allowing you to showcase your credentials and USPs with short, snappy soundbites, such as ‘Free Shipping’ or ‘24/7 Customer Support.’ You can also activate click-to-call extensions for mobile users, and include customer review ratings to highlight how successful you are.
Both Google and Bing offer this functionality, but Bing differentiates itself by also allowing images to appear in-line with your search ads. So, if your brand benefits from visual content, you can flaunt it on Bing and show the world what you have to offer.
Who takes the crown?
Any PPC marketer worth their salt will preach the power of trial and error when fine-tuning campaigns, and paid search allows for easy experimentation, enabling you to run multiple versions of the same ad to see which one performs better over time.
Likewise, this openness to trying new things should be extended to both platforms; the only way to answer which works best is to actually try them. In all likelihood, you will probably find that you’ll reap the rewards of spreading your net, achieving maximum exposure and having the flexibility to utilize the unique features of each.
In short, there are fewer advertisers on Bing, but the audience is steadily growing, so ad space is cheaper and it’s hitting more people each month. AdWords remains the leading player, and the benefits of a wider reach are obvious, but to really get more bang for your buck, you should also embrace Bing.