Microsoft has announced a slew of Bing Ads updates that could stand to impact advertisers’ efforts in the engine.
In a recent blog post, Microsoft’s David Pann, General Manager for the Search Network, outlines the platform’s 2015 plans, which include expanding Bing’s reach, introducing new functionalities for advertisers and improving current ad opportunities. This post outlines the most significant changes and how they might affect marketers’ efforts in Bing.
#1 | Microsoft is pushing to increase Bing’s reach
One of Microsoft’s larger initiatives will be in pushing to increase Bing’s reach. This will come in two parts: 1) providing search results for more third-party partners and 2) incorporating Bing into more of Microsoft’s products. As previously announced, Bing will be providing results for Apple’s Spotlight feature within Mac OS X “Yosemite” and iOS 8. The new Amazon Fire Phone will also have Bing as the default search engine. And while Microsoft has already incorporated Bing into many of its products, such as Windows OS, the company will be further including Bing in its latest product offerings, including Cortana – Microsoft’s digital assistant that is similar to Apple’s Siri and Google Now – which delivers Bing results on Windows Phone 8.1.
As Microsoft incorporates Bing into more platforms and devices, Bing’s search market share could increase globally. If this occurs, then marketers should prioritize spend accordingly to take advantage of this potentially greater search demand. Of course, this will hinge on consumer adoption – especially as it pertains to Apple and Amazon hardware integrations.
Moreover, Cortana’s presence on the Windows Phone 8.1 alone (which has low market share compared to Android and iOS) would limit the reach potential of Bing. However, Cortana’s already announced expansion to Windows OS and Xbox One could help the product gain popularity and drive more Bing queries and results.
#2 | Microsoft is making Bing Ads faster and easier to manage
In the past, media managers faced a four-hour lag when it came to accessing same-day data within the UI. For marketers managing bids and performance in near-real time, this lack of data into how campaigns are progressing can stymie productivity. Microsoft is addressing this problem by reducing the data lag to be no longer than 30 minutes.
Moreover, in an effort to continue to scale for larger accounts, Microsoft has doubled the number of keywords advertisers can view and manage (from 50K to 100K) and is currently piloting accounts up to 250K. The current plan is to increase the limit to 1 million terms for all marketers by year end.
Microsoft will also be introducing more flexibility and precision when it comes to campaign scheduling. Currently, advertisers work within ranges (e.g. 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.) and are unable to dictate a specific time for going live. Soon, media managers will be able to schedule campaigns to launch at an exact hour (e.g. 5 a.m.).
These backend changes – though mostly only touched by media managers and not brands themselves– will give advertisers similar capabilities to those which are offered within Google AdWords.
- The updated reporting capabilities will grant marketers more insights into performance when demand, traffic and spends are at their highest – and allow them to take more immediate actions.
- For smaller marketers that primarily rely on the UI to manage keywords and bids, the expanded keyword view will now allow them to view terms and make changes on a larger scale.
#3 | Microsoft is introducing new ad formats to search engine result pages
Within the coming year, Microsoft will enhance ad extensions with the goal of driving more traffic per query to ads. In an interview with Search Engine Land, Pann said that marketers will have the ability to add description lines to text-based sitelinks, as well as invite searchers to install apps through extensions.
Pann also stated that Microsoft is planning on introducing ads that leverage more visual elements. Last fall, Microsoft ran a beta where select advertisers could run image-rich “Hero Ads” on their Brand terms. Pann stated that, while the volume was low on these terms, the data encouraged his team to introduce ad formats that use images.
Marketers should likewise welcome these changes and leverage them appropriately since they will likely be attractive to searchers and increase ad engagement.
Marketers who use AdWords should already be familiar with some of these enhancements such as sitelinks with descriptions since Google introduced them first. However, given that Google has focused more on Product Listing Ads and shied away from pairing images directly with the text ad, Microsoft’s image ad offerings could be a unique opportunity for marketers to implement.
Microsoft’s recent Bing Ad successes have driven more front-end metrics for marketers, and many of their latest announcements have the potential to further increase marketer’s traffic, ease campaign management and improve overall performance. The greatest benefit marketers may gain though is in a greater parity between Bing Ads and AdWords, as search marketers have grappled with the disparities between the two platforms. Bing Ads has been and continues to be a major – yet smaller in comparison to the likes of Google – player within the search industry, but as text ad formats, features and even campaign settings become standardized across search ad platforms, Microsoft is making it easier for Google-only marketers to use Bing Ads.
Cover photo via Deep Sky