An Introduction to Microsoft Advertising (Formerly Bing Ads)

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What is Microsoft Advertising?

Bing, owned by Microsoft, is the second biggest search engine in the world, with 12 billion searches every month. Microsoft Advertising is a way of putting your business in front of this audience with paid advertisements. If you’re familiar with Google Ads, this is Bing’s equivalent.

Using a daily budget, you can choose from a number of advertisement types to share your website, products or app.

Note: Although its official name is Microsoft Advertising, the platform is still commonly referred to as Bing Ads (its name before a re-brand in 2019). This article will use Microsoft Advertising and Bing Ads interchangeably – they’re the same thing.

Ads on Bing
Some examples of ads on Bing

Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

Google Ads is by far the better known and bigger platform, with 87% of the market share worldwide. Bing’s 7% share seems tiny in comparison, but it still amounts to over a billion monthly users!

Which platform you use will largely depend on budget, goals and audience demographics. Ideally, you would advertise on both Google and Bing but, if you’re only able to choose one, here are some things to consider:

  • Bing’s audience is generally older, with 70% of users over the age of 35, and 33% over 55.
  • 33% of users have a income of over $100k.
  • Users of Bing are generally more educated.
  • People are more likely to click an add on Bing than they are on Google.
  • Microsoft’s marketing network includes Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ecosia and more.
  • Popular voice search devices such as Cortana and Alexa use Bing.
  • Bing is integrated with other Microsoft products such as Windows laptops (1.5 billion active users), the Edge browser, Outlook, Skype, Teams and Xbox.

Much of this means that, even if people aren’t actually using Bing as a search engine, Microsoft advertisements will still be regularly seen by them.

If your audience matches Bing’s user demographics, then this could be a better advertising option for you. Choosing Bing over Google can also work out cheaper because, even though there are fewer users, there are also fewer advertisers. This means less competition.

How does Bing Ads Work?

Bing Ads allows you to create digital advertisements that will be shown to appropriate users across Microsoft’s search network. It’s known as PPC (pay per click) advertising, because you’re charged when someone clicks on your advertisement (rather than when they see your ad).

Microsoft presents your ad to a user, who clicks on it and is directed to your website or your app. Ideally, they then purchase your product or service, although ads can also be used to increase brand awareness.

There are limited advertising spaces available, so where and when your ad is displayed will depend on factors including budget and relevance.

Types of Microsoft Ads

There are lots of types of ads available, and which you use will depend on your business goals, size, and budget.

Example of an Expanded Text Ad on Bing
Example of an Expanded Text Ad on Bing

Expanded Text Ads look very similar to search results, and often appear above the organic results (and sometimes at the bottom of the page).

Dynamic Search Ads are the same as Expanded Text Ads but are automatically targeted based on your website content. The content is also sometimes customised by Bing. These give you less flexibility but save time.

Product Ads promote specific products from your catalogue and include images and relevant information such as price and promotional offers. They display when users are searching for similar products.

Responsive Search Ads allow you to provide several headlines and descriptions that Bing will mix and match and show to audiences in the same style as Expanded Text Ads. The best ads are used more frequently while poorly performing ones will be prevented from showing.

App Install Ads can be used if you want to promote your app. They’re similar to Expanded Text Ads but link directly to a download of your app. Bing will identify the user’s device and send them to the correct store.

Multimedia Ads use images and other multimedia to stand out. These are usually shown on sidebars or at the top of search results.

Bing Smart Search shows up when someone uses the search bar on Windows computers to search Bing. The ads look similar to Expanded Text Ads but may also include a thumbnail of your website.

Microsoft Audience Ads are banner ads shown natively on sites in the Microsoft network. As well as the usual text and a link, they include an image.

How to Set up Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertising homepage

1. Create an account

Firstly, you’ll need to create a free account on Microsoft Advertising. Simply click Sign up now and follow the easy instructions. You can use an existing email address and will be asked to provide some basic information such as name and business location.

2. Import your Google Ads or Facebook Ads (optional)

If you’re already running successful Google or Facebook ads, then you may want to import them to Bing by selecting Import from the menu. Follow the instructions to submit the import and, once complete, make sure all the information has transferred over accurately.

Activate the ads when you’re ready.

3. Keyword Research

Before creating an Ad, you’ll usually need to know which keywords to target. Bing has a handy keyword planner to help you identify suitable keywords.

Select Tools > Keyword Planner in the top menu to access this.

From here, you can search for keywords using your website content, product details, or even product category. You can fine tune your results by targeting demographics and narrowing down by date too.

Keyword Planner will also show you search volume, trends and cost estimates.

Make a list of suitable keywords by weighing up search volume and likely cost. You may also want to make a note of keywords that aren’t relevant. You can add these as negative keywords that your ads won’t show up for.

4. Set up a new ad

Ads are made up of three levels:

Campaigns include your overall aim and are where you select the type of ad you want to use. This is where you set your budget.

Within Campaigns are Ad Groups, where you will group ads with close similarities. This is where you select keywords. You can assign different percentages of your Campaign budget to each Ad Group.

Finally, each Ad Group has a number of Ads. These are the fine details of your advertising, including the text, links and images that will be displayed to the audience.

To create an ad from scratch, select Campaign from the left menu, and then Create Campaign. You will be taken through a step-by-step process to set things up. Select the goal of your Campaign, the type of ads you want to use, and other information such as location and budget.

This process will take you through all the steps right down to creating each individual ad. Remember to have your keyword data ready from step 3.

5. Set up conversion tracking (optional)

Menu items on Microsoft Advertising

Advertising is most effective when you can track results, which is why setting up conversion tracking – though optional – is an important part of creating your ads.

Known as Universal Event Tracking (UET), Bing’s tracking Pixel can be installed on your website to monitor user behaviour. You can then use the information to measure the success of your ads and make improvements.

To add it, select Tools > UET Tag. Click Create UET Tag, give it a name and description, and save.

Once created, view the tag, copy the text, and paste into your website code (usually in  the header). You can also find a WordPress plugin to do this if you’re not confident editing your website code directly or don’t have a developer.

Finally, create a Conversion Goal by clicking Tools > Conversion goals. Tell Bing what you want to track with the UET, such as website visits, form submissions, or purchases. You can select multiple Conversion Goals.

Don’t forget to verify that your tag is working (which could take up to 24 hours). If the tracking status of your Conversion Goal shows as Tag inactive or Unverified, this indicates your UET tag or goal isn’t set up correctly. A tracking status of no recent conversions could also indicate an issue.

Conclusion

Microsoft Advertising – also known as Bing Ads – is a great alternative to Google Ads, particularly if your target audience closely matches Bing’s demographics. While much smaller than Google, Bing still has a huge number of monthly users and advertising is the perfect way to reach a targeted audience.

Follow these steps to get started and watch this space for a more in-depth look at Bing Ads.

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