In the world of search engine marketing, Google Ads reigns supreme. No other search engine has more reach or consumer affinity than Google, and few can deny that its advertising offerings are the premier choice among businesses small and large.
With Google’s prominence, many homebuilders have asked us whether or not we think Bing Ads (now known as Microsoft Advertising) is really worth an investment. And while it’s hard to argue Google’s dominance in paid search, we think it’s always a good idea to consider your options. So before you decide to forego Microsoft Advertising altogether, here are some key pros and cons to consider:
Benefits of Microsoft Advertising
More Than Just Bing
One of the most common misconceptions about the Bing search engine is that it’s just Bing. In fact, Bing powers the search results you find on Yahoo! as well as AOL. This includes these search engines’ paid results, too. Oh, and that emerging privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo? That, too, is part of the Microsoft Advertising Network.
Individually, these search engines represent small fractions of the online search market. Together, however, they make up 35% of the desktop search market in the U.S. That’s not insignificant, especially because it represents billions of monthly searches taking place outside of Google.
Better CPCs Than Google
Microsoft has long touted that its advertising opportunities offered a more cost-effective alternative to Google Ads on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. This is likely a result of having a smaller set of advertisers and fewer marketing dollars flowing through the platform — thereby decreasing CPC bid competition — but it’s a bottom-line benefit that many of our own clients have realized.
Unique Advertising Opportunities
Although it’s remarkably easy to import existing Google Ads campaigns into Microsoft Advertising, there are a few distinct advertising options available only through Microsoft’s platform. From native ads served in places like MSN, Outlook.com and Microsoft Edge to LinkedIn targeting that can help brands reach users based on their professional status and criteria — there’s plenty of innovation here that keeps Microsoft Advertising from being just another “me too” platform.
Drawbacks of Microsoft Advertising
Limited Reach on Mobile Devices
While Microsoft Advertising can help brands reach a solid portion of the desktop user base, its mobile reach is severely limited. This is because Google is often the default search engine on both Apple and Android-based phones, so Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines are generally overlooked in the mobile space. In fact, it’s estimated that only about 7% of mobile search queries in the U.S. take place outside of Google.
Few mobile users mean that Microsoft Advertising is probably not going to be the ideal high-funnel network. With that said, its proclivity for generating solid desktop traffic means it could be a more important part of your mid-funnel marketing efforts as many potential buyers move towards such devices for more serious research.
Lack of Income Targeting
One of the most powerful ways for homebuilders to reach the right audiences and limit wasted marketing dollars is to target users by their income levels. With this data, builders can focus on the buyer profiles that are more likely to be able to purchase a home in the first place.
Income targeting is readily available for most types of Google Ads campaigns, but it’s noticeably absent from Microsoft Advertising. Although Microsoft Advertising does allow you to reach users based on their search behavior (e.g., actively searching for homes), not having these targeting parameters makes it difficult for builders, especially luxury homebuilders, to get their ads in front of the right people.
Living Outside of Google’s “Walled Garden”
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of Google is how it’s mastered integrating its first-party products with one another in the digital marketing stack.
In all likelihood, you’re probably already using Google Analytics and maybe even Google Tag Manager for your website. Anyone who’s worked to integrate these platforms can tell you how straightforward Google makes it, but once you go outside of Google’s “walled garden,” things get a little bit more difficult.
Conversion tracking and deeper integrations are certainly possible through Microsoft Advertising, but they’re not natively supported by Google, so it can be a more arduous and time-consuming process to get everything where you want it to be.
What Should You Do?
Unfortunately, there is no one answer that’s going to suit every single homebuilder out there.
Whether or not you should include Microsoft Advertising in your media plan is very likely going to depend on your marketing budget and how much you have to contribute to paid search in the first place. The last thing you want to do is segment an already-limited budget to the detriment to your Google Ads campaigns. But if you do have a more robust paid search budget, it may be worth a closer look.
In instances where clients have the budget for more experimentation, we generally recommend they start with a 70/30 approach (i.e., 70% of the paid search budget to Google, 30% to Bing). From there, campaign performance is measured and allocation adjustments are made.
Still not sure whether or not Microsoft Advertising makes sense for you? Don’t know where to start with your paid search budget? Get in touch with us and let’s work together to find the right solution for your business.