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4 top reasons to use Bing Shopping

bing shopping campaign ads guide

As the number two search destination, with a U.S. audience of more than 60 million, Microsoft Bing Shopping Ads offer distinct advantages for eCommerce entrepreneurs who need to stick to a budget. Search marketing is an effective way to promote your online store—and for most merchants, that means buying ads on Google. But Bing offers a substantial audience across a robust network of properties at a cost-effective price. In other words, it’s typically cheaper to advertise through Bing than Google.

Plus the Bing audience tends to be made up of high-value earners not also found through Google’s ad ecosystem. Many eCommerce merchants and marketers tend to shun the platform, but it’s an untapped marketing well that can uplevel your traffic.

Search advertising is complex, so expect a learning curve as you set up paid advertising through Bing. You can always decide to hire a search specialist so you can focus on your core business instead. But given it’s useful to learn about the benefits of investing in Bing Shopping Campaigns (recently rebranded as Microsoft Shopping Campaigns), eCommerce merchants can use this guide as a stepping stone in their Bing journey. For a more in-depth look at multichannel retailing, check out our guide.

Bing, bigger than you think

Microsoft Bing is the current official name of the search engine launched in 2009, replacing Microsoft’s MSN Search and Live Search. Not surprisingly, Bing is integrated with other Microsoft services: it’s the default search engine for the MSN website and users of the Edge browser, and serves as the web search tool built into Windows and other Microsoft software.

Bing also powers other web search destinations—most notably Yahoo! and AOL. Depending on who’s doing the counting, Bing’s network accounts for between 14 percent and 27 percent of U.S. search traffic on desktop or laptop computers. Across all devices, Bing powers 9 percent of U.S. searches and 4 percent of global search activity.

While those numbers are dwarfed by Google’s share, they still represent a significant audience. In the U.S., Microsoft claims the Bing network reaches 117 million U.S. users monthly conducting more than 7 billion searches.

In short, when it comes to driving traffic to your online store, Bing is an avenue worth exploring when you've started your business.

A brief look at Bing Ads

While maximizing visibility in organic search is a crucial eCommerce marketing tactic, paid search can quickly boost visibility of seasonal items and timely offers. The operative word here being “quickly.”

Microsoft Bing’s search engine results look like Google’s, with organic listings generated by the algorithm in the center and ad positions at the top and along the sides.

Microsoft Bing Shopping Ads formats

Like with Google, merchants place bids for ad placement based on keyword terms and only pay when shoppers click the ads—a method known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (which is an element of SEM, or Search Engine Marketing). Sellers set spending limits and other parameters to ensure their budget is used effectively. They can select from a menu of Bing ad formats that broadly include:

  • Text ads featuring a text heading, a link, and a brief message that can highlight specific products or categories or promote the brand overall

  • Product ads that highlight specific items with images, brief descriptors, and links

  • Multimedia ads that feature embedded video and more expansive imagery along with text and ­links

Ads can be enhanced with discount offers, links to nearby stores where items are in stock, and customer service information. Dynamic and responsive ad placements integrate customizations on the fly to personalize ad content to suit viewers’ preferences.

As of late 2020, both Google and Bing have offered free basic product ad listings. And both search engines have created compelling landing pages for browsing through product ads, with curated content and seasonal favorites highlighted. While the ad formats are similar to Google, there’s one key difference, and this cannot be stressed enough: the price tag.

Because the Microsoft Search Network is often overlooked by advertisers, competition is lower for bids, resulting in costs per click (CPC) anywhere from 20% to 40 percent lower on Bing, depending on the keywords.

Bing shopping vs. Google shopping

Cost isn’t the only difference between Bing and Google. Other key variations are important to consider when determining where to spend ad dollars. Among them:

  • More clicks for Bing text ads, more for Google product ads—with dollars flowing accordingly. Google’s Shopping product ads account for 57 percent of its paid search clicks. Whereas on Bing, they account for just 31 percent, with the remainder of paid clicks generated by text ads. Advertisers are investing where the clicks are: spending on Bing text ads is up 15 percent year over year, while Bing product ad purchasing is down 9 percent. By contrast, investment in Google product listings is up 15 percent year over year, compared with 7 percent for text ads.

  • Google rules mobile. There’s no getting around it: Google rules mobile search, which is the dominant form of search today. 60 percent of all search traffic is mobile, and a whopping 94 percent of those searches in the U.S. are conducted on Google. By contrast, Yahoo and Bing account for a combined total of just 3 percent of market share in the U.S., and 1.5 percent globally.

  • Bing users are wealthier and more established. As a corollary of Bing’s larger relative presence on desktop computers, its audience skews slightly toward white-collar workers—a desirable demographic to target. The majority of Bing users are college-educated, married, and have children, while 42 percent are in the top quarter of income earners. (The below data is sourced from Microsoft Search Network data.)

Microsoft Bing Shopping users demographics

4 top reasons to use Bing Shopping Campaigns

Bing’s competitive ad pricing and unique audience behaviors and characteristics are favorable for eCommerce merchants—and so is the potential impact on the bottom line. Three ways Bing ads can earn revenue and save costs, both immediately and in the long run:

01. Higher click-through rates and lower costs-per-action

Click-through rates (CTR) on Bing average 45 percent higher than on Google, depending on the specific industry vertical. And while conversion rates are slightly lower (1.74 percent on Bing compared with 1.91 percent on Google), the lower CPC on Bing means that the overall cost per desired action – that is, how much ad spending is necessary to generate each order—is also lower than on Google, by a whopping 40 percent.

02. Easy integration with existing Google ad feeds

Bing offers a quick springboard onto its ad platform for merchants already advertising on Google, with a feed upload and conversion tool that reduces the amount of time and resources necessary to prepare for launch.

03. Better tools for granular testing

While there are enough similarities in the ad systems to enable quick transfer of ad feeds from Google, Bing offers several controls on the back end that enable more precise targeting by ad group, device and time zone. Merchants also have better visibility into which part of the Bing network traffic is coming from than on Google. That means sellers can make their dollar stretch further by more closely targeting their desired audiences.

04. A future-proof privacy edge

The past year has seen leading technology companies take steps to protect users’ privacy—most notably Apple’s move to require explicit user permission for apps to collect personal data. Like Apple, Microsoft isn’t solely dependent on advertising for revenue, and so it’s in a better position to jettison invasive ad-tracking techniques. As one example, Google has already extended its deadline for ending third-party tracking into late next year, while Microsoft has proposed a privacy-centric ad targeting solution to rival Google’s work-in-progress. While the details are complex, the upshot for merchants is that ad features in Bing are likely to pass muster even as privacy controls continue to tighten—and that means less retooling in the future.

Getting started with Microsoft Shopping Campaigns

To begin advertising on Bing, you’ll first need to take care of a few one-time administrative tasks before moving on to setting up products, audiences, and the campaigns that connect them.

Microsoft offers a comprehensive guide, “Get Started With Microsoft Shopping Campaigns,” an in-depth training course and even free “coaching” for newbies, along with plenty of video and text tutorials. But if you’re ready to dive in, follow these steps to get started:

  1. Set up an account. You don’t need to pay anything when you set up a Microsoft Advertising account, which gives you access to the training course and other resources, including a free research tool which provides insights into popular search terms within the Microsoft Search Network. Simply provide a valid email address and set a password on the account setup page.

  2. Create a store and claim your eCommerce site. The next step is to set up a Merchant Center store in Microsoft’s administrative console and connect it to your existing online store, either by verification through Microsoft’s webmaster tools or by setting a Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag on your website. Adding the UET tag ties conversion and other visitor behaviors to ad performance, and enables more nuanced ad targeting features, so it’s the preferred method to use. If you’re a Wix merchant, you can add the tracker by referring to Microsoft’s how-to guide, or contact our support team for assistance.

  3. Upload a product feed, or import from Google. Once your Merchant Center store settings are established and verified, populate that store with merchandise by uploading or importing your product catalog. Conveniently, if you’re already running ads on Google, Microsoft offers the option to import your Google ad feed and campaigns, or you can create an original Microsoft catalog from scratch.

  4. Take care of the billing. You’ll need to set up a payment method and choose whether campaigns will be prepaid, with charges deducted from a pre-set amount, or whether charges will be paid on a regular basis based on fees already accrued.

Once these basic elements are in place, planning your keyword and campaign strategy is crucial to ensure ads are cost-effective, both for advertising on Bing and for Google Shopping Campaigns.

Top tips:

  • Start with the end goal in mind. Will ads showcase a new product available for purchase online, announce a sitewide discount offer, or help last-minute holiday shoppers select items for store pickup? Each desired outcome requires different calls to action and use of different promotional tools within the ad platform.

  • Formulate campaigns based on your ideal buyer persona. It’s helpful to have in mind individual tastes, budgets, and specific search habits—whether they use mobile, click on the first product ads they see, or page through multiple screens of results. These traits can help determine ad creation, from which photos you use to the amounts you bid.

  • Double-check keyword terms for insider jargon. Customers use different terminology when they conduct keyword searches than employees do. Internal on-site search logs from your existing eCommerce site can provide useful guidance; to avoid overly technical terms, adopt the keywords shoppers are already using when they hunt for products on your online store.

With your Microsoft account established, your Merchant Center store populated with products, and your strategy formulated, you’re ready to set up your ads. For each campaign, you’ll need to assign product groups and indicate the desired audience, as well as the budget.

  • First, build a campaign by setting goals and targeting criteria, selecting keywords, and establishing a budget.

  • Then, establish product groups by clustering related items from your catalog feed. These can be your existing product categories from your eCommerce site, or thematically-linked items such as holiday decor or new seasonal items. Link the relevant product groups to your campaign.

  • Finally, target your ads using variables such as geography, audience demographics, or time of day. In addition to specifying specific targets, you can exclude specific regions, keywords, and websites.

Once your ads are live, don’t forget the crucial final component: tracking performance to ensure your ads are driving the traffic and business you desire. With Wix Analytics, included as part of a Wix eCommerce website, you’ll be able to pinpoint Bing as an external traffic source when it comes to organic, non-ad traffic. To track your ad performance, make sure to connect to the Feed For Microsoft Ads app, found in the Wix App Market.

Bing Shopping ads ecommerce platform traffic source analytics

Microsoft Shopping Campaigns can be your best friend

Bing’s underdog status and desirable audience make it a compelling and budget-friendly option for merchants.  But, as the saying goes, “don’t put your eggs in one basket.” Consider selling on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram and other platforms, as well.

Whether in tandem with Google ads (for more details, see our guide on how to sell on Google) or as standalone targeted buys, a modest investment in Bing Shopping Ads can drive qualified traffic to your eCommerce site—resulting in higher sales and new customer relationships.

Geraldine Feehily

Bogar Alonso

Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce

Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.

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