Introduction

In October 2013, the comScore Explicit Core Search Share Report showed that Google held 67% market share of searches in the US, while Bing accounted for 18%. This translates to 12.9 billion searches a month on Google and 3.5 billion on Bing. Year-over-year, Google's search share has remained flat while Bing’s has grown.

If advertisers were to address this logically, they would invest search budget proportionally across the two dominant search engines. However, this is not the pattern we typically see. Advertisers who have seen a decline in performance on Bing compared to Google have often ceased to invest. When we look below the surface, we often see the disparity in performance is not due to the quality of the target audience on Bing or their propensity to convert, but rather that Bing accounts have not been maintained to the same standard as the Google accounts. As the majority of sales have come from Google, search managers have dedicated the majority of their time to optimizing Google accounts, continually adding new keywords and negatives, updating ad copy and optimizing keyword bids and campaign budgets. With a comparable level of investment in Bing – both in spend and maintenance - we believe advertisers can see a comparable level of return on investment.

The Opportunity in Detail

In the US, cost-per-click (CPC) on Google increased by 10% year-over-year (Q3 2012-Q3 2013) and click-through-rate (CTR) remained virtually unchanged. Compare these trends to those seen on Bing where there has been a 10% increase in impressions, a 33% increase in click volume, a 21% increase in CTR, and a drop in CPC of 3% (all data taken from the Marin Global Advertiser Index of $6 billion in annualized ad spend). It is clear the opportunity to capture additional traffic and revenue is growing.

Additionally, this extra traffic comes at a lower price on Bing with an average CPC of $0.78 compared to $0.93 on Google (Q3 2013). For example, assume your overall search budget is $10,000 a month and you split this proportionally across Google and Bing according to their market share; your Google budget would be roughly $7,300 versus $2,700 on Bing. Assuming CPC is comparable with Marin’s average CPC, you would get 3,462 clicks from Bing and 7,850 from Google. In total you would get 11,311 clicks when investing in both search engines, compared to 10,753 if you invest solely in Google. That’s 558 more clicks per month for no additional investment.

Marin Global Search Index (excludes content network)

Best Practices

If an advertiser has done an effective job of optimizing his or her Google AdWords campaigns, the best way to leverage that effort on Bing is simply to replicate the programs on Bing. To do this, simply export accounts directly from Google and then upload to Bing. If leveraging the publisher environments, this will likely involve some amount of structural manipulation in Excel to ensure compatibility. With a platform like Marin Software, advertisers can simply change the account name, export from “Google” to “Bing,” and then upload. This process will take about 10 minutes, provide full keyword coverage across both Google and Bing, and ensure up-to-date and fully optimized ad copy.

As CPCs are lower on Bing compared to Google, it may be necessary to reduce keyword maximum CPC bids at the time of migration. This can also be accomplished in Excel (e.g., formula: Bing maximum CPC = (Google maximum CPC/100)*30, if bids are to be set 30% lower). If leveraging a bid management platform such as Marin Software, it is possible to copy bidding goals from Google to Bing and the algorithm will automatically calculate the optimal keyword bid and continually adjust as it learns from the accumulated performance data.

Marin Software’s bidding is also capable of using Google keyword performance data to calculate Bing keyword bids in the event that the Bing keywords have no historical data. To do this, the advertiser must add the Bing keywords to the same Folder where the Google keywords reside. Marin Software also offers automated A/B copy testing, which runs across both Google and Bing with no need for additional tracking. Advertisers can then routinely check results and pause poorly performing copy with no need to log into the individual publisher interfaces.

Finally, the time needed to manage campaigns across both Google and Bing can be drastically cut by using a dedicated platform like Marin Software. Advertisers can set automated alerts to identify when keywords are under-performing, regardless of which search engine account they belong. Advertisers can also optimize keywords from both Google and Bing in the same user interface, eliminating the need to duplicate campaign management efforts. When adding new keywords or ad copy, Marin Software allows search marketers to accomplish this in one step across multiple search engines via the campaign copy feature – simply create the campaign in one engine and copy it to the other with just a few clicks.

Case Study

Sykes Cottages is the UK's leading independent cottage rental agency. They have been in business for over 25 years and have more than 4,000 holiday cottage rental properties available across the UK and Ireland. Before partnering with Marin Software, Sykes Cottages relied on publisher tools, which made running ads on both Google and Bing a daunting challenge. There weren’t enough hours in the day to manage and optimize two sets of campaigns.

As Google typically out-performed Bing with significantly greater volume and lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA), Sykes Cottages abandoned Bing prior to selecting Marin Software. Utilizing cross-publisher campaign management in Marin, Sykes Cottages returned to Bing without incurring additional overhead costs. Leveraging Marin Software’s powerful automated bidding solution to optimize bids on a daily basis, across both Google and Bing, resulted in an instant drop in CPA of almost 25%. Conversion volume from Bing grew by 259%, while CPA remained in line with that of Google.

Summary

Many advertisers have scaled back or abandoned their efforts and investment in Bing search advertising due to Google’s colossal market share and the amount of time required to optimize rapidly growing keyword lists and ad copy. However, most advertisers have budgets that are expected to work harder and drive incremental value month after month. In some geographic regions, consumers have increased their use of Bing. Savvy advertisers are seizing this opportunity to expand Google campaigns across Bing, and enjoy a higher volume of clicks and conversions without having to increase budgets. Advertisers who do not keep up with the changing pace of Bing will be left behind. Technology can help by doing the heavy lifting, allowing search marketers to copy campaigns in a matter of minutes and automating bidding across both Google and Bing.