With Google controlling the majority share of online traffic, it’s easy to write off Microsoft’s Bing Ads as a search engine and PPC platform.
But Microsoft Advertising, Bing Ads, in particular, has enormous potential for businesses of all sizes — especially those with smaller budgets.
Microsoft Advertising presents a fantastic opportunity to generate search leads at a relatively lower cost, and that’s something all advertisers should take note of.
In this post, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about Bing Ads, including how they work, how to set up your ad account, and how to get started on your first campaign.
Bing can give you access to 46.7 million non-Google users worldwide, who span all ages, interests, and demographics.
That’s 46 million users you can’t reach through any existing or future Google Ads campaigns.
And since most advertisers are too busy fighting over Google Ad placements to notice, it lowers competition on Bing.
This can directly translate into lower cost-per-clicks for Bing Ads, which means higher ROI.
Have we convinced you yet?
What Are Bing Ads?
Bing Ads are search ads on the Microsoft Advertising pay-per-click platform. They’re essentially the equivalent to Google Ads search ads.
Here’s how they work in a nutshell:
You create a campaign targeting a group of keywords, and when users search for those specific phrases, your ad bids on a chance to show up in one of the top sponsored placements for maximum visibility.
Bing Ads are valuable because, like Google, they’re able to capture users who are actively researching or considering a purchase.
You can grab these users while they’re researching, tossing your name in the hat just as they’re looking for options. You can often make a sale in that single interaction, if your ad, landing page, and offer stand out.
Bing Ads are incredibly effective, and they give you a great shot to reach hyper-specific audiences looking for exact terms that you’re targeting.
Bing Ads Rebranded as Microsoft Advertising in April 2019
Microsoft rebranded the Bing Ads platform to Microsoft Advertising in April 2019. They merged the platform with other separate advertising tools and services.
Beyond Bing search ads, you can show display ads on the Microsoft Audience Network, which includes MSN and many other websites.
But the user experience and their fundamental offering didn’t change.
The most important ad product is still text-based search ads in the Bing.com search engine.
Ready to start reaching a new audience online through Microsoft Advertising and Bing ads?
Create an account here, and let’s head through the tutorial.
New in 2020: Microsoft Advertising Smart Campaigns
In late 2019 and early 2020, Microsoft followed in the footsteps of Google (with Adwords Express) a few years late.
They launched smart campaigns in combination with a simple user interface, and pushed it on all new users by default.
When you sign up for a new account, the first campaign you create through the tutorial will likely be a smart campaign.
You can only choose one of three goals: more visits to your retail store, website, or more calls.
Then you need to fill out your basic business info like your website, and what products or services you sell. This replaces the choosing of actual keywords and search phrases in manual campaigns.
First, you set the location you want to advertise in, and Microsoft gives you the first estimate of volume:
If you’re promoting a local business, set it to a limited radius around your business location. If you’re selling products or services online, choose the countries you want to target with ads.
Next, choose or type in custom products or services that you sell online. Microsoft will make educated guesses based on your site’s content.
Then, you create your very first Bing ad:
If you already have a Google Ads campaign, nothing should surprise you here. Up to three 30-character headlines, two 90-character ad descriptions, and your URL.
After that, you just need to set your budget:
Your smart campaign is now set up. Fill out your payment details to take the campaign live and start advertising on Bing.
How to Get Full Control Over Your Campaigns: Enable Expert Mode
While smart campaigns are an easy way to get started, they don’t give you a lot of control over the details.
You could, for example, be targeting low-quality keywords or search phrases without even knowing it, or over or underbidding for keywords.
To get full customizability over your campaigns, click your account email address in the menu, and select the “switch to expert mode” and confirm it.
Once you do that, you’ll see the full-powered campaign overview, rather than the dumbed-down smart UI.
Before You Create and Enable Your Campaigns, Do This
Before you start creating and running actual campaigns, pause for two seconds.
There’s a crucial thing you need to do first that can make or break your campaigns — setting up your conversion tracking pixel.
Microsoft calls it the “Universal Event Tracking” tag. This tag or tracking pixel lets you see what users do on your site after they click on an ad. If they just leave or make a purchase, the tag will let you know. So they’re essential for accurately tracking conversions.
If you’re already familiar with tracking pixels through Facebook or Google, just make sure you’ve got this up and running before you skip to the next section.
If not, here’s what you need to do:
- Head to the dashboard, and find “conversion tracking.” The link is in the bottom left corner of the sidebar menu.
- Then scroll down and click the “get started” button.
- Click the “Create UET Tag” button, give it an appropriate name, and save it.
- Copy the snippet of code created for you.
- Paste this snippet of code onto the pages on your site that you want to track. You can use a WordPress plugin like Insert Headers and Footers Plugin to do this quickly and automatically.
- Then you need to add conversion goals to your new tag. To create a purchase conversion, set the destination url as your thank you page. This is similar to how you track conversions in Google Analytics, rather than Google ads.
- Verify that your pixel is working before you start running your campaigns. It can take up to 24 hours for the pixel to register.
How to Create a Microsoft Advertising Bing Ads Campaign
When you first log into your Microsoft Advertising account, you’ll immediately see the ads dashboard. Here, you can create, manage, review, and edit both your search and audience ads.
To get started, click the “Create campaign” button in the top left corner of the campaigns table.
Your first step will be to choose a goal.
You can choose from:
- Visits to your site
- Visits to your brick and mortar location
- Phone calls
- Dynamic search ads, which customizes the ads based on the content of your site, no keywords needed
- Smart campaigns, where you create the ads but leave the targeting and bidding up to Microsoft Advertising
- Selling catalog products, which allows you to rank in the Shopping tab on the side of the search results with images of your products
For this example, we’ll choose the site visits objective.
Create Your Bing Ads Campaign Step 1: Campaign Settings
Next, you’re going to set your campaign settings, including the name and budget for your campaign.
You can choose from an individual daily budget, or use a budget from the Shared library.
You’ll then set a location, which can be broad like Canada and the US or specific zip codes, along with who you want to see your ads.
Choose the languages of people who see your ad, along with whether you want people who are searching for target locations or people who are there.
Create Your Bing Ads Campaign Step 2: Ad Groups & Keywords
At the second stage, you’ll choose to create ad groups by choosing your keywords.
Note that for search ads, it’s always a good choice to create tightly-knit, small ad groups with a limited number of relevant keywords. This makes it easier to write relevant copy for the terms in the ad group, which can increase your ad rank and performance.
When creating ad groups, the best approach is to create a single ad group for each service you offer. That typically means many ad groups focused on a single keyword, or a group of closely related keywords.
While we always recommend doing keyword research before creating your campaigns, sometimes the keyword suggestion tool on the right will offer some great ideas for high value, affordable keywords you can add to the list.
Create Your Bing Ads Campaign Step 3: Create Your Ad
Here, you’ll create the actual ad, including writing up the copy and adding site link extensions.
When you’re creating the ad, notice that you get 30 characters for each of the three title sections and 90 characters for both ad texts.
There are dividers between the titles, so you need to treat each title as unique instead of one long run-on sentence.
You’ll also see that you can add in URLs and mobile-specific URLs. If you have separate mobile landing pages use both.
(Also please never write copy this horrendous. If you need help with that, check out our ultimate copywriting tool.)
Next, choose if you want to add extensions to your ad. If you’re serious about advertising, and spending more than a few bucks, it’s not really a choice. You need extensions.
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Ads, extensions give you more room to make your offer or business more appealing to users, and it helps you stand out visually in the SERPs.
Furthermore, extensions are known to increase CTR and conversion rates.
Microsoft offers many of the same options. For example, Bing Ads extensions can look like this:
Options include sitelink extensions, price extensions, callout extensions, and more.
Creating sitelink extensions only takes a few minutes — just fill out the needed fields, and you’ll be able to add them to your ad directly.
For example, you should add sitelinks to reviews, case studies, service pages, product categories, and more.
You’ll get much better results from Bing PPC ads if you use every ad extension to its full potential.
We have a dedicated guide to Google Ads Extensions that can help you figure out which ones to use, and what to write.
Create Your Bing Ads Campaign Step 4: Budget & Bids
Creating an advertising campaign without a budget is the definition of madness in marketing.
If Microsoft could control how much you spent, they’d always err on the side of spending.
So in this last stage, you must clearly define your campaign’s budget and your bids.
When it comes to bidding strategy, enhanced CPC is a good choice if you want to let Bing do some of the automation for you. An algorithm will try to bid extra for audiences and keywords with a high conversion rate, and lower bids if it thinks there’s little chance of a sale.
If you’re worried about having a specific bid you can afford, on the other hand, you can use manual bidding.
One thing that’s really great about Bing Ads is the customization options here.
You can set distinctive bids for each individual ad group easily, and even adjust your bid based on the user location, device, or time of day.
You can use these advanced options to help you more efficiently target your highest value audiences. For example, if your conversion rates are higher on desktop, you could increase bids.
After all, a PPC ad is only worth something when seen by the right eyeballs.
You can also control ad distribution settings, which controls how much of the Microsoft search network you advertise on.
It always includes Bing, AOL, and Yahoo, but you can exclude every other search partner if you want.
Bing Ads may not have Google’s enormous market share of online search traffic, but they definitely hold their own, especially with Yahoo as a sister company.
If you’re already seeing success on the Google Ads platform, succeeding with Microsoft Advertising is almost as easy as copying and pasting campaigns.
You can get great results at a lower cost, helping to spread your ad spend just a little farther.
But of course, if you’re not advertising anywhere else yet, you shouldn’t be focusing exclusively on Bing. For most businesses, using both Bing and Google will lead to maximized reach and the highest ROI.
Want to learn more about running Google Ads in the meantime? Check out our resources here.
What do you think? Have you ever used Bing Ads? Do you use Bing in combination with Google Ads? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!