Bing has been in the headlines recently for all the right reasons, with a lot of hype around it being first to the table with generative AI-powered search results.
It’s a rarity, as Bing hasn’t often gotten much love from marketers who often dismiss it as not worth bothering about – so long as Google reigns supreme.
But is this approach naive? Should Bing be part of every brand’s toolkit? Or in 2023, should marketers dismiss Bing as an ‘also-ran’ in the world of search marketing? Let’s take a look…
As of March 2023, Bing had around 9% worldwide market share of search traffic, a figure which hasn’t changed much over the course of the last decade (source).
The figure has risen by a couple of points, but Google remains the go-to search engine for most. The search giant has rarely had a market share of less than 85% over the course of the last eight years, and though competitors like Bing have become more plentiful, they’ve failed to make a dent in its dominance. That 9% share is about as high as it’s ever been, thanks to Bing’s headstart with its AI/conversational features which it managed to ship ahead of Google’s Bard, meaning many are experimenting with it (for now), with some going as far as to say Google should be worried by Microsoft’s head-start (source).
With a relatively low market share, it’d be easy to dismiss Bing as a wasted effort, not worth distracting a marketing team with.
With such a small percentage of searches being done on Bing, it might seem like it isn’t worth investing any effort towards optimising for traffic from the search engine.
But with many brands (including your competitors) neglecting Bing, it can sometimes be an open goal. With fewer businesses putting efforts towards the search engine, ranking and acquiring organic traffic can be far less competitive than on the saturated Google. Note that Bing partnered with the following search engines, powering their results too:
With this in mind, it’s always worth at least installing Bing Webmaster Tools and checking if there are any easy wins. Whether it’s just submitting an up-to-date sitemap, checking for any crawling or indexation errors, a quick review can at least lay the foundations for success. And with fewer competitors paying attention to Bing, it might be possible for smaller brands to rank better than ‘also-ran’ in those hyper-competitive searches.
With relatively fewer advertisers as well as less ad budget in general (source), CPCs on Bing can be as much as 70% lower than for equivalent clicks on Google. If you’re operating on a tight or squeezed marketing budget, or are looking to make efficiencies, making your budget stretch a little further with Microsoft Ads can be an option.
One of the easiest wins on Microsoft Ads is that MS has recognised that advertisers aren’t really going to make an effort, and offer a one-click solution to import campaigns from Google Ads. For many brands with limited resources, this is a straightforward option to start advertising on Microsoft Ads with minimal effort.
Even if budgets aren’t stretched, layering on Microsoft Ads can open incremental growth opportunities, particularly in sectors where Bing search has (relatively) greater market share than normal. For comparatively small budget increases, sound returns can be found, in certain verticals.
Import your already-well-optimised Google Search and Shopping campaigns, and away you go. If a quick search shows reduced or minimal competition on Bing Search for search and shopping ads, it can be an easy win. Or at least much easier than trying to compete among Google searches…
Microsoft itself claims that its users are older, with 71% of users 35 years old and above (source). Microsoft also state that its users are generally more affluent than counterparts on Google.
Interestingly, it’s claimed that desktop users are preferential towards Bing, too (source). Much of this use undoubtedly comes from business users forced to use the Edge browser, on large-scale networks such as those at the NHS or local authorities. If visitors from desktop devices are more important to your business, this might affect your decision to focus some efforts towards Bing (source).
With Bing also driving other search engines like the sustainability focussed Ecosia, or the privacy-centric DuckDuckGo, marketers can open up more direct opportunities that might not otherwise exist within Google’s vast user base.
For example, if your brand has serious sustainability credentials consider some advertising on Bing via Ecosia to reach those with values which are aligned to your business. This audience might be more difficult or expensive to effectively reach on Google, even if its personalisation signals are likely much stronger than those on Microsoft/Bing.
Or if your customers are privacy-savvy and generally stray away from using Google, consider DuckDuckGo as a viable alternative. Both platforms use Microsoft Ads cand and can be cost-effective ways of reaching specific audiences at a relatively lower cost than for example on Meta or Google. Those using Bing, Yahoo! and MSN unintentionally, unironically, or otherwise may also sit within a specific audience which is attainable through Bing search.
If you’ve been chasing Google’s latest algorithm updates and have never given Bing and Microsoft Ads a second thought, perhaps it’s time to reconsider. By being strategic with your efforts, there can be relatively straightforward wins both from organic and paid search, especially when trying to reach a particular demographic such as an older crowd, a more affluent customer, or those on desktop devices. Microsoft Ads can also prove cost-effective, particularly if you’re running out of headroom on Google Ads, or need cost-effective clicks.
As ever – plan properly, test and see what story the data tells. There may still be opportunities on the table when it comes to Bing & Microsoft Ads. If you’re still sceptical, connect with one of our team.