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Bing Ads Go the Way of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns

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Last year, Google announced an update to its advertising model – called Enhanced Campaigns – that formally ushered all marketers into the mobile era. Now, Bing has unveiled its own variation that will combine desktop and tablet traffic together, providing advertisers with a better and more efficient advertising experience.

The challenges for sophisticated marketers will be familiar, as these advertisers will yearn for greater granularity, transparency and controls – as was the case with Google’s debut of Enhanced Campaigns. That said, the industry learned to adapt to the new platform to continue improving performance, and we expect the same to happen in the wake of this latest update from Bing.

This post will outline the upcoming changes and what marketers should think about when planning for impending migrations.

What’s changing in Bing search campaigns?

In a statement, Microsoft’s Search GM David Pann notes that the device targeting update underscores Bing’s dedication to balance “flexibility” with “complexity.” Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect to see in the coming months:

  • Bing Ads will bundle tablet targeting with desktop/laptop starting in September, with the inclusion of tablet bid multipliers. Based on Bing’s research, desktop and tablet search performance trend and convert relatively closely, with a variance of 15 to 20 percent. With this insight, Bing will provide marketers with a tablet bid multiplier range of -20 percent to 300 percent. This will grant marketers control over DR-oriented tablet campaigns – which typically do not perform as well as desktop – and allow them to maximize visibility for any specific tablet initiative.
  • By early 2015, Bing will bundle mobile targeting with desktop/laptop/tablet. Similar to tablet bid multipliers, mobile bid multipliers will be used to increase and decrease mobile ads’ share of voice. Bing will widen the mobile bid range to -100 percent to 300 percent to allow marketers to effectively opt out of mobile altogether if they so choose.

Future implications for Bing & the search industry at-large

In addition to the tactical takeaways that will influence how advertisers manage their search efforts in Bing, the announcement brings with it a few key implications for marketers when it comes to the future of SEM:

  • This move simplifies operational nuances associated with managing search. In time, sophisticated search marketers will adopt Google Enhanced Campaigns best practices developed over the past year and apply them to Bing. As new ways of optimizing campaigns become second nature, the industry will begin to realize that the time saved can be reinvested in becoming smarter marketers.
  • Desktop, tablet and mobile budgets will be harder to manage in silos. Experience leveraging Google’s bid multipliers proves the feasibility of managing to budget; however, not to the same degree of accuracy if campaigns remained segmented by device. Keep in mind, Google’s Enhanced Campaign already forced marketers to plan and coordinate budgets fluidly across device. With that said, if you haven’t done so already, begin considering how to adjust your budget planning process in the event budgets are managed by device today.
  • The update will encourage marketers to think beyond the same DR metrics used for desktop. In a recent post here on the 360i Blog, Jason Hartley argues that the “overconfidence effect” can lead advertisers to overlook opportunities in more unchartered areas, such as mobile search. Google and (and now) Bing’s moves in search should inspire marketers to think differently about the ways they approach desktop and mobile campaigns.
  • Yahoo Gemini will roll out without disruption. Bing Ads’ transition to bundled campaigns will not affect Yahoo’s Gemini advancements. Marketers will continue to buy Yahoo mobile search and native through the Gemini platform.
  • Bing may one day help us better understand cross-device behavior. Pann’s statement refers to Microsoft’s plan to “take further steps to unify the management of device targeting across campaigns,” leading one to wonder what else Bing has up its sleeves in the coming months.

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As was the case when Google’s Enhanced Campaigns first launched, Bing Ads’ own introduction of bundled targeting is bittersweet. While marketers can relish the simplification and much-needed nudge to develop a mobile strategy, the update brings with it a loss of control for marketers. That said, the net-net is positive as marketplace disruption has proven to create new opportunities in the past.

Cover photo via Microsoft