When most people think of search, what immediately comes to mind for most advertisers and marketers is usually Google. But don’t dismiss the power of Microsoft’s Bing. What many don’t realize is that Microsoft actually gets much farther reach than they think, thanks to Microsoft powering a plethora of other search engines as well (AOL, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc).
Microsoft ads and strategy expert at Big Click Co., Lisa Raehsler, is here to remind us not to forget the power of Microsoft search, with over 13 billion global searches, including being a leader in the voice search realm. This episode is all about what you’re missing out on by not utilizing Microsoft ads.
Rich: My guest today is making a return to the Agents of Change podcast. She first appeared way back in episode 153, so about five years ago. She’s the founder and SEM strategy consultant for Big Click Co. She is a digital marketing, search engine marketing, PPC and social ads expert and consultant. And she’s an international speaker, a well-respected columnist, and a Microsoft MVP award recipient. Today, we’re going to be diving into Microsoft ads with Lisa Raehsler. Lisa, welcome back to the show.
Lisa: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Rich: So how have the past five years treated you?
Lisa: Great. Everything’s been going great. The past five minus one has been fantastic.
Rich: There you go. I don’t think most people are prepared to answer the question, “How has the last five years been for you?” But you know, I appreciate you rolling with it anyways.
So today we’re going to be talking about Microsoft ads, which a lot of people still refer to as Bing ads. But you know, they’re officially called Microsoft ads now. So let’s be honest, when people think about search advertising, PPC, SEM, they think Google ads, not Microsoft ads. And I know you’re an expert in both. How are Microsoft ads different than Google ads, in your opinion?
Lisa: Okay, that’s a great question. And I have some stats ready for you.
Rich: Excellent. Hit me.
Lisa: Yes. There are over 13 billion global searches on the Bing network, basically. And what a lot of people don’t know is that Bing search – or Microsoft search – power several different search engines besides just Bing MSN exclusively; AOL, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo, and then there’s one called Ecosia. And so they get a farther reach than a lot of people realize.
Also, a fun fact is that they power a lot of voice search. The biggest one and most well-known is Alexa and Cortana, their voice search. So, I mean, if you think about the market share of the Amazon Echo products, it’s huge.
Rich: And so there’s much more search volume than we might have been led to believe. But obviously the belief is there, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that Google still has much more search volume than Microsoft does in terms of search. Correct? Which is one of the reasons why most…
Rich: Okay. So have you found that Microsoft ads are cheaper than Google ads, all things considered? Or do they perform better? Like, what might be one of the reasons why we should be considering Microsoft ads?
Lisa: Right. So Microsoft, the most recent stat I found was they have over 500,000 advertisers. Which means that’s a lot less than Google, but it means that there’s less competition. So you are likely to find some less expensive or more efficient cost per clicks on Microsoft. They also have a slightly different audience where it’s more mature, more affluent, and a little bit more educated than the Google audience.
Rich: See, this to me is fascinating. Because yes, older was definitely like the idea of the typical Microsoft search user or Bing user. But to understand that they’re more affluent, that’s a little bit surprising.
Do you have any other information about Bing users? Like, are they a certain type of people? Are they in a certain type of the world? I’m just trying to think about like, depending on my business, should I be considering Bing on equal footing as Google or before Google, depending on who I’m going after?
Lisa: 25% have household income in the top 25%.
Rich: So if I have a high-end product, and I’m just thinking about my own agency and the fact that we do a number of marine websites for people who own yachts or for yacht builders, they should really be considering something like Microsoft ads on equal footing, at least with Google ads. Like there’s a lot of opportunity there for their ideal customers.
Lisa: Yes. I had a boating client, and they did fantastic on Bing.
Rich: Really? That’s good to know. Very good to know. And yet still I’m sure some of the pushback is that “I’m not going to bother with Microsoft ads because the volume of search is so much greater at Google”. Is that a fair concern, or do you feel that we’ve addressed it and we can dispel that myth?
Lisa: I think there is a little bit less volume, but I think that is only if you consider taking your Google ads and just transferring them as is over to Microsoft. So if you’re using the exact same campaigns, you’re going to get different results. If you take those campaigns and you optimize them for that platform, you probably won’t see an issue with that.
Rich: So, all right. I want to talk about this because I was planning on getting to it, but you brought it up, so I want to address it. So we can take basically a Google ads campaign that’s humming along, and Bing – maybe because it’s number two – has allowed us to basically import that ad campaign as is right onto the Microsoft platform. Correct?
Lisa: Yes. There are a couple adjustments that you have to make in the import to be technical about it, but yes, you can basically import it over. And so then there would be some adjustments that you would want to make to it.
For example, adjusting the bids, typically that might be down a little bit. And also some keyword matching. So if for example, if you’re using a lot of exact matching which restricts traffic, you might want to broaden those keywords and maybe add additional keywords.
Rich: So just to take a step back for those who are not especially fluent in search ads, exact match means that the search that I’m going to bid on is exactly that phrase, where broad match might be that it’s related to that phrase or that it’s bigger than the exact phrase that was done. Is that correct?
Lisa: Right. The exact match keywords would be if you’re doing…
Rich: Well, let’s stick on the yachts. So like Maine “Maine built boats” or “Maine built yacht” might be a search term that these guys would be after.
Lisa: Right. So in Google you would have “Maine built yachts” and someone would have to search for that exactly. But if you put it in the same keyword and change it, so it’s “Maine built yachts”, you may trigger and match with “Maine built cruisers”.
Rich: Maybe, or maybe it’s not even worry about the “Maine built”. So with Bing we want to go a little bit broader, is what I’m hearing when it comes to that.
Lisa: Right, yes.
Rich: Okay, good to know. I was just going to wonder, and also if we’re going after a more affluent audience, the language they use and identify with might be different, too. So if we’ve got some keywords in the Google ads, maybe we want to think about using, you mentioned that the audience at Bing has more education. So we might want to go with words that would resonate more with a higher educated, more affluent audience.
Lisa: That’s a good point.
Rich: All right, cool. What else should we know about moving our ads over to Microsoft, to Bing? Like, if we’re doing the import, what are the things might we want to take into consideration?
Lisa: I think technically you’ll want to reevaluate the ad extensions, because the ad extensions they have are a little bit different. And you want to customize those as well for what we were saying, for language and length and that sort of thing. And so that includes the site links, call outs, those types of extensions that you can also import.
Rich: So the ad extensions again, for people who don’t know, that usually makes the footprint of your Google ad larger. It might have links underneath or whatever it may be. And Microsoft’s aren’t exactly the same. So that’s going to take a little nuancing, a little noodling once we bring it over to Microsoft.
Lisa: I would do that, definitely. Yeah. Well, the other thing that differentiates them, and also when you’re importing it and checking the targeting, is that they have that exclusive feature of being able to use the LinkedIn data that they have access to.
Rich: I’ve been wanting to talk to you about that. Tell us about, because obviously Microsoft owns LinkedIn. So how does that impact our Bing ads?
Lisa: The LinkedIn data is awesome because it is definitely a differentiator, and it is very difficult to do B2B targeting in Google, as everyone knows. That’s one pretty challenging area for B2B.
So Microsoft uses some LinkedIn data for company, industry, and job function. So as an example, you could say ‘target Amazon employees’, and there are 10,000 plus Amazon employees. And then from those employees, you could target people that are in the IT function.
Lisa: Right. It’s very cool.
Rich: That is crazy. So if I’m in B2B and I’ve been using Google ads and had some success with it, I bring my ads over to Microsoft. And from what I understand is, it’s almost like running LinkedIn ads where I can target people based on job descriptions or anything like that. What you’re saying is I can take that level of targeting and layer it on top of my search ads. So are you suggesting that they would only show up then if we add that extra layer of targeting, they’re only going to show up for people who work in it or hold a position in the C-suite or whatever our search may be, or does it just increase the chances?
Lisa: They would be included. So because they don’t have access or don’t use all of the rich LinkedIn data, so definitely you wouldn’t want to give up your LinkedIn ads. So this is something that you can layer on top of your LinkedIn ads and also add into your Microsoft ads. Because they only have those three targeting criteria: the job function, company, and industry. And a good tactical use for that is to use a bid modifier and say, I’m willing to pay more to reach these people. I want to reach these people that are targeting these other keywords. But if you can get me the sweet spot of the Amazon employees in IT, I’ll pay more for that.
Rich: Yeah, which makes sense. You know, I’m thinking about the fact that so many of us just think everybody else is like us. And for those of us who regularly use Google, we think everybody uses Google. But I know from talking to some of my clients, like I have somebody who sells to the prison systems. And federal prisons aren’t allowed to use Google, they’re only allowed to use Microsoft products. So that right there, they don’t care about running Google ads because they’re going to be serving them up likely on the computers that are available to the prison decision makers. And those are all going to be powered by Bing. That’s a very strange obscure example, but it is true.
So are there other industries where we find that whether because of regulations or privacy or anything else, that Bing is prevalent, or does it just often come down to personal choice? And I know that I’m putting you on the spot, and this may be guesswork.
Lisa: I don’t know if it’s industry-oriented, but you’re right about the Microsoft products with Windows Outlook, Skype, Teams and X-Box, don’t forget about Xbox.
Rich: I never forget about Xbox. I’m really deep into Assassin’s Creed: Origins right now.
Lisa: And the voice searches. So all those products, I mean, they’re really touching people in a variety of different media channels there.
Rich: Now as you’ve worked with different clients who are using both Google ads and Microsoft ads, have you found from your client’s standpoint that there are certain industries that do better with Microsoft ads, where if you’ve got a new client in a specific industry, you’d say we definitely want to be using Microsoft ads to reach your ideal customers?
Lisa: I think they all do well in it.
Rich: Oh, really? Okay. So obviously you mentioned B2B does especially well, and then we talked about affluent audiences as well.
Lisa: Yeah. I mean, you can use the same B2B client. You’re definitely going to make a lot more changes and enhancements in Bing because you can get more granular and more specific with your targeting than you can in Google. There’s no way for you to target a company. There are a couple of kind of obscure settings in there, and I don’t know how well they work. So for B2B, they’re almost going to be two different animals really.
Rich: Okay. Now in Google we have the Google Display Network. In fact, that was the topic that you and I discussed way back in episode 153. Is there an equivalent for Microsoft?
Lisa: Yes, the Microsoft Audience Network, that is their version of the Google Display Network. And so that expands the ad serving from the search engines onto content sites. And so through that you can serve image ads and product ads.
Rich: Okay, good. I wanted to know if we could do things like that. Obviously, Google owns YouTube, so we’ve got YouTube and places to advertise like that. Is there any equivalent that Microsoft has when it comes to those type of either pre-rolls on videos or just video ads themselves?
Lisa: I’m not aware of that.
Rich: Alright. We certainly haven’t heard of a YouTube competitor that was owned by Microsoft at least.
And one thing that a lot of people want to do is retarget people. And obviously Facebook and social is very powerful when it comes to retargeting, but there is a lot of retargeting through Google as well. Does Microsoft have a retargeting option?
Lisa: They do have a retargeting option, and that works really well. That those will always be a little bit more challenging, a little bit lower volume. They also have a customer match feature like Google does. So that is the feature where you can upload a list of contacts, they can be leads, they can be customers, people that you want to target or retarget from this list. And they have this feature in Microsoft, in Google, in LinkedIn, and other platforms. And basically in all of them, it does the same thing. They search through their user data and they match up your list with their data to come up with basically your audience list.
Rich: All right. Excellent. What other things do you think business owners and marketers need to know about Microsoft ads that they might not be aware of now?
Lisa: I think we touched on a lot of really good points for Microsoft ads. They have some really good stats. They have good targeting, very good targeting. Oh, one of my little notes here that I have going in hand with the Microsoft Audience Network is that they have a deal with Shutterstock. So you can have access to millions of images from Shutterstock to create your ads. Now creating image ad and, banner ads is one of the things that is very challenging for smaller businesses. Because it’s an additional expense, it gets awfully complicated to do that, especially if you want to change creative a lot and budget wise, etc. So that is a unique feature that Microsoft offers that’s newer. So, I mean, I would definitely take advantage of that to get good quality professional images.
Rich: That’s awesome. This has been really fascinating. I know that I definitely had some preconceptions about Microsoft ads before we jumped on the call today. And I am actually really excited to try out some of these, both for our company and B2B, as well as talking to some of our clients who might be more affluent industries.
For people who might want to learn more, learn about you Lisa, learn about Big Click Co., where can we send them?
Rich: Awesome. Lisa, thank you so much for your time and expertise today.
Lisa: Thank you so much.
Lisa Raehsler’s knowledge and expertise in the world of search has made her invaluable to her clients as they continue to find more of their ideal customers using her techniques and strategies. Check out her website and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.