Beyond AdWords: The “Other” Search Engine

June 28 / Andrew Kopp / filed under Pay-Per-Click

ppc google bing adwords

You can’t have a discussion about PPC strategy without peppering the conversation with “Google AdWords.” Google’s pay-per-click network is a behemoth, and it’s difficult to fully embrace PPC without including AdWords in your long-term plan, but there are also some drawbacks that can prevent brands from fully embracing the high-profile utility:

  • Pricing: Your financial investment depends on the popularity of keywords and things can get very expensive. You’re also paying for clicks, and clicks don’t always translate into sales.
  • Difficulty: AdWords is effective but complex. If you’re looking for a point-and-post utility, AdWords isn’t it.
  • Size Matters: Because of pricing and difficulty factors, AdWords is often a better play for big companies with big marketing departments and big budgets. Smaller companies and startups may find more bang for their buck elsewhere.

So, where is “elsewhere,” exactly? Perhaps the biggest Google AdWords alternative is the delightfully named Bing.

An Introduction to Bing Ads

Bing Ads has gone through several rebirths since it was originally marketed as Microsoft adCenter way back in the early 2000s. Ties to MSN Search and Yahoo! came next, but these days Bing Ads is branded as a solo act but most closely tied to AOL, which uses Bing search instead of Google and displays the Bing Ads sold by Microsoft.

Like AdWords, Bing Ads uses an auction-style bidding war to determine how much advertisers are willing to pay for traffic. User investment drives visibility, but ad copy and search placement also matter. Max efficiency and ROI depend on smart targeting, so ads hit the right demographic and clicks don’t go to waste, as well as other ad options such as scheduling, device type, and localization.

Keyword research is perhaps the most important cog in the PPC wheel. Bing Ads includes analytic tools, so you can track keyword performance, adjust your keywords whenever necessary, and know just how much you should bid for the keywords most likely to fuel your campaign and reach your desired audience.

Why Use Bing Ads?

Now that that’s out of the way, what does Bing Ads have to offer you versus Google AdWords?

  • It’s Cheaper than AdWords: Less competition for keywords means lower purchase price at those fun little KW auctions. According to WordStream, Bing’s average cost per click is about 33% lower than AdWords and those ads were typically positioned better too.
  • Better Targeting: Know who is seeing your ads and who’s clicking on them
  • Enhanced Demographic Targeting: Want demographic-based targeting in your search ads? You’ll need to turn to Bing, where you can control things like gender and age at both the campaign and group levels.
  • It Goes Beyond Google: Bing Ads are seen on Bing, Yahoo, and AOL’s search engines, so you’re getting triple the platform visibility plus some traction on partner sites.

A Few Drawbacks

There are some potential downsides to Bing Ads, but one stands out the most: It’s not Google. In terms of global market share, Google dominates the competition. Give up AdWords and you’re giving up some of that visibility too. Should that be a deal breaker? Probably not. Bing has its own dedicated audience, so, if you have the resources, the best approach may be one that uses both services.

Feeling better about your AdWords alternatives? Great! More confused than ever? That’s not surprising; PPC is a labyrinthine landscape that can trip up even experienced marketers. Sometimes the best play is to leave the strategy and execution to the experts, so you can set aside the minutiae and get back to mastering those tasks that need your expertise most.