Bing Ads - A Sea of Summer Changes

Many feel Bing Ads (both the interface and Editor) can be quite painful to use, and with its volume of traffic being a fair bit lower, some may wonder if it's even worth advertising on Bing at all.

Although volume (in comparison to Google) is lower on Bing, the quality of traffic does tend to be superior, giving us some excellent CPAs. This makes Bing a great option to advertise on to supplement PPC campaigns on Google.

Over the last few months, Microsoft has committed to big investment into new features for Bing, especially looking to improve what has been a major weakness of Bing's interface and Editor - day-to-day usability.

So over the last month or so we've seen a fair few updates!

  • Bing Ads Editor v9.9 Now Available For All Markets

A much-awaited update to Bing Ads Editor has seen user experience enhancements to bring it more in line with AdWords Editor, speed improvements (up to 3x faster bulk uploads and downloads) and better Enhanced Campaigns compatibility.

Other improvements include the addition of new URL and text change options, such as append/pre-pending text and "Change text capitalisation functionality".

  • Performance Comparison at a Glance

Previously if you wanted to compare your Bing performance data to a prior period of time you would have to download this data and format it in Excel in order to analyse it. Soon Bing will provide this report for you in the user interface, along with a moving average to compare your data against.

What is a 'moving average', I hear you ask? Well if, for example, you were looking at data for last Friday, the moving average of these performance metrics is calculated by taking the averages of these metrics from the previous four Fridays, giving a more accurate comparison of how your campaigns are doing.

  • Product Search and New Ad Formats

 Replacing Bing Shopping, Microsoft will be rolling out with a new product search experience. Unlike Google's move to a fully paid shopping experience, Bing's new product search will incorporate both free and paid product ads.

In addition to this, there will also be a new service called Rich Captions. This will allow you to merge your product listings to the Bing search results for your products. Providing the search algorithm matches them together, the price and availability of the product will be displayed below the search results listing.

In order to enable this feature you will need to be a Product Ads beta customer, which is currently only available in the US. However, as Product Ads gets rolled out over the next few months, you will be able to activate this service through your Bing Merchant Centre account.

  • Phone Extensions

 Just last week Bing announced the introduction of phone extensions. Working in the same way as Google Adwords Call Extensions, Phone extensions will allow us to provide a phone number alongside search ads across all devices on a cost-per-click basis.

This extension is particularly important in lead generation markets, where advertising products and services that are of higher value, or require a higher level of commitment, (for example university degrees or insurance services).

Being able to contact the retailer directly increases trust in the product or service you provide and can go a long way to closing that potential sale or lead.

  • Bing Ads Intelligence Update

Bing has also released a new update for its nifty Excel plugin. This update has looked to improve in three areas: productivity, usability and data accuracy.

You can remove your account keywords from Bing's keyword suggestions by default now, which will save time! There is also the option to select specific or multiple accounts when you sign in too; switch between accounts with ease. What this will also provide is account-specific bid estimations and keyword suggestions.

Finally, the keyword limit has been increased from 20,000 to 200,000, so now there's no excuse not to use this tool!

Bing Ads is far from perfect and there are still concerns on the usability of its interface as well as managing large accounts (not quite as easily maintained as Google Adwords MCCs). However, it is refreshing to see its support of what advertisers want to see - there's even an official Bing Ads Suggestion Forum which has influenced some of its recent enhancements.

Bing knows it has a lot to do in order to be considered a real competitor to advertising on Google, rather than just being somewhat of an afterthought. By not simply replicating Google's formula and instead listening to advertiser's feedback, it has incorporated features such as Enhanced Campaigns functionality as well as the option to continue targeting by individual devices. Bing also, for example, provides more transparency in Search Partner activity, something frustratingly not yet available within Google Adwords.

By giving advertisers more choice and flexibility, Bing has made good strides this summer. Now we just need to see higher volumes from the search engine to make this all worthwhile.

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