Not using Bing yet as a verb? You might want to reconsider. Bing search added more than a million new preview users and topped 100 million daily active users since integrating ChatGPT in February. How can you as a marketer use this to help you reach your goals? Take another look at MSN Advertising to place your PPC ads in front of Bing searchers – set-up is fast (you can import directly from Google Ads) and less competition means lower CPCs and CPAs when compared to Google Ads.
Should I advertise on MSN?
While Microsoft’s Bing search engine has offered pay-per-click (PPC) advertising since 2006, it is still often ignored by B2B digital marketers who believe that Google Ads will give them the biggest bang for their marketing buck. Though it’s true that Google owns 63% of the PPC market share today, I’ve seen increasing success for my clients using MSN Ads over the years and with the release of ChatGPT giving more users a reason to visit Bing, I would argue that now is the best time to expand on the PPC success you’ve created in Google Ads and add MSN Ads into your paid media mix.
Before jumping in, there is a quick and easy way to test the MSN waters. Assuming you already receive a decent amount of valuable SEO traffic, you can view your Bing / Organic traffic in Google Analytics to get an idea of how the searchers on MSN measure up by comparing your Bing organic traffic to other channels.
In GA4, you’ll want to go to Acquisition, then choose Traffic Acquisition. The top row gives totals and averages. Once you find the row for Bing organic traffic, look at metrics such as time per session and engagement rate. In the screenshot here, we can see that the MSN organic traffic isn’t over-performing; however, average engagement time and events per session are above average and fairly comparable to Google organic, so it’s a good indication that there is enough of your target audience searching on MSN that offering targeted, paid ads could be beneficial.
How do I advertise on MSN?
First, sign up for a new MSN Advertising account. Next, the easiest thing to do is choose “Import from Google Ads”. If you are doing your first test in MSN, after being prompted to sign into your Google Ads account, choose Advanced Import and then Import specific campaigns and ad groups. This will allow you to choose a campaign or a few campaigns to test, rather than your entire account.
Once imported, check for any unexpected errors (this includes looking at all account and campaign settings). Lastly, and this might be your favorite part, decrease your budgets by and any manual bids by two-thirds. Yes, two-thirds. As a general rule, this seems to work pretty well and you can check back in a day or two and adjust as needed.
Does MSN Advertising Work?
I have been advertising either for clients or for my own brand since MSN Search launched back in 2006. And while it doesn’t work for every brand and certainly doesn’t work for every type of product or service, I have seen results and positive ROI for brands as disparate as a large home goods retailer, printed circuit board manufacturer, and B2B SaaS.
In one example, a client is paying $0.24 per click in MSN and showing in the top of the search results for their keywords 62% of the time. Compare this to an average CPC in Google Ads of $6.89 to reach an 82% top impression share. The cost-per-conversion was less than one-fifth the amount for MSN leads vs. those from Google Ads. While these numbers are promising, keep in mind that the sheer number of impressions, clicks, and conversions are far greater in Google. This is why I wouldn’t recommend one vs the other. It’s more about covering your bases and bringing in additional leads for less when you add on MSN vs. constantly increasing your PPC spend within Google Ads.
A Few Differences in MSN Ads vs. Google Ads
Again, I don’t compare the two platforms in the sense that you should choose one over the other. However, there are a few key differences most of our clients see that are important to note.
- Traffic & Conversion Volume: MSN in general brings less traffic. This will translate into a lower net number of conversions (though it will also cost you less).
- Cost: Overall, there is less competition with MSN Ads. (Try searching some of your own top keywords and see for yourself to see if it’s true for your industry). This is why cost-per-click bids can sometimes be significantly lower than in Google Ads. It can also translate to a higher CTR. (The average clickthrough rate across all industries in Microsoft Ads is 2.83%, 50% higher than that of Google Ads).
- Settings: Google offers more robust settings overall and in general seems to do a better job with its machine learning given the information I provide. One important example is keyword match types. MSN takes a fast, loose approach with broad and phrase matching in my opinion, compared to Google Ads. For most B2B clients, this isn’t a good thing as it results in irrelevant searches, clicks, and costs. The fix? Use more exact match and negative keywords in MSN to combat this.
MSN Ads is not a substitute for Google Ads. However, if you think of it as supplemental for rounding out your PPC strategy, there are wins to be had. You may be surprised at the qualified leads you can add to your monthly goals – and the low CPA you can achieve – when you test out MSN Advertising for yourself. And though it will likely never surpass Google Ads in the marketplace at this point, if you can accept it as it is, and get your account set up now, you’ll be in a good place as ChatGPT continues to drive more searchers to Bing…where they just might be searching for you.