You wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that the Bing search engine is to Google what the Google+ social network was to Facebook, circa 2015. But, despite the fact that some people have compared advertising on Bing to advertising on AM radio, Bing actually accounts for 36.9% of PC internet searches in the US, according to Microsoft. Take that number with a grain of salt (…ahem… Microsoft, the company that owns Bing, would want you to think it’s quite popular) and remember that Windows defaults to Bing searches. But, even with those caveats, Bing still accounts for a hefty chunk of the web’s total traffic in English speaking countries.
So should you be advertising on Bing?
Similarities between Google Ads and Bing Ads
Did our littler asterisk grab your attention? Good, because the long answer is a bit more nuanced than a simple “yep”.
In almost every respect that matters, Bing Ads are functionally identical to Google Ads. Both platforms utilize a Pay Per Click (PPC) model, which you can learn more about here. Both allow you to bid on keywords, set a budget ceiling so you don’t break the bank, and even the way the search results are displayed is similar. Where they differ is in price, market reach, and audience.
While we’re comparing Google Adwords to Bing PPC advertisements, it’s important to note that if you are already using Google Ads, there’s a handy-dandy “import” function for Bing. You can simply convert over your current campaigns, keywords, and the like from Google to Bing with just a few clicks. So don’t let trepidation about rebuilding an entire ad campaign stop you from adding Bing to your PPC channels; they do the heavy lifting for you.
Notice the similarities between Google and Bing PPC results. . .
Bing is owned by Microsoft, and if you’re in the search engine marketing game you likely know that advertising with Bing also means you’re throwing up ads on AOL and Yahoo! (all Microsoft properties). Microsoft has been gunning for Google’s throne since Bing’s inception in 2009. That means they’re quite incentivized to persuade you, a person looking to spend advertising dollars, to work with them.
When compared to Google Adwords, Bing PPC is on average much cheaper per keyword. Why? Well, Bing has a smaller pool of people searching than Google does, but it’s also because Bing wants to be cheaper than Google as a way to entice you. Price differences vary depending on who you ask and which keyword you’re competing for, but some more often than not you’ll be spending less trying to rank on Bing when compared to Google.
There’s no beating around this fact; more people use Google than Bing. This goes double in countries outside the US. The Microsoft Search Network (which Bing, AOL, and Yahoo! exist within) only offers 8 countries besides the United States as potential filters to measure their reach. So if you’re looking to advertise to people in a country outside of those lucky eight, you’re SOL. There are on average 3.5 billion searches on Google each day across all devices, OS’s, mobile, and desktop devices, while Bing boasts that they have 12.2 billion PC searches per month. However you slice it, Bing simply doesn’t reach as many people at the end of the day.
So, Bing is cheaper but reaches far fewer people on average. So what makes it worth advertising with? The people using it. Here’s a quick breakdown of who uses Bing in the USA, according to Microsoft.
– 45% are over the age of 45
– 37% graduated from college
– 22% have a household income in the top 25%
– 46% are married
– 30% have children living at home
A quick glance at this list shows that the average Bing searcher is an older person, likely married with kids, and they’re often well off or at least middle class, and they almost exclusively use a PC instead of a Mac or Linux system. If that type of person is in your target audience, you have no excuse not to be advertising on Bing. Beyond that, we at Gravitate have noticed that many corporate users default to Bing, particularly office staff and those in the medical field or in education, where computers tend to be older and almost exclusively PCs.
Bing should be thought of not as a competitor of Google AdWords (much as they want to be) but rather another advertising resource for your business. Much like putting a spot on the radio or slapping posters in the barbershops around town, you ought to use Bing if you’re looking to advertise to well off middle-class families specifically, as opposed to the entire world and all its people. Bing lets you cast a wider net, giving you dual coverage across the many platforms and devices people use in their day-to-day lives. Plus, because it’s so easy to import an existing Google AdWords campaign into the Bing PPC service, and it’s generally cheaper, there’s not much reason not to do it.