Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) is an affordable, easy-to-use advertising platform for search engine marketing (SEM) on Google competitor Bing. Although Microsoft Advertising isn’t the No. 1 search engine, it does get more than 1 billion unique visitors per month, worldwide. Use Microsoft Ads to diversify your advertising campaigns and capitalize on pay-per-click ads directed toward a specific audience.
How Microsoft Advertising Works
Any great SEM campaign targets specific keywords that search engine users may use to find a product, service, or solution to fill a need or want. Microsoft Ads let you focus on those keywords or phrases that you associate with your business, and helps users find you by placing ads at the top or at the bottom of the search results.
Using Microsoft Ads’ keyword research tool, you can find the keywords that best fit for your goal. You can target broad keywords, localize it by adding a city or state, or focus a long-tail keyword phrase to try to answer specific questions. You’ll set your advertising budget per day and place bids on keywords. You only pay if someone clicks on your ad.
Where your ad shows up in search results (top or bottom, first or second, and so on) depends on how much you bid for a keyword and how much competition you have. The better your ad performs can also affect your position.
How Much Microsoft Advertising Costs
There is no set cost for Microsoft Ads. The price for an ad is based on the demand. So, if your keyword is popular and has high search volume, the starting bid is likely going to be higher than a keyword that isn’t used as often. A single click on an ad could cost pennies or dollars. Your cost-per-click (CPC) could be lower or higher for your industry too.
Bing Ads Average CPC by Industry
Reasons to Advertise With Microsoft
Spending your advertising budget wisely can result in the best return on investment (ROI). Rather than sinking all your ad dollars into a single SEM campaign, it might be a good idea to spread it out across multiple search engine advertising platforms, including Google and Microsoft Ads, and social media ads.
Bing may not be as ubiquitous as Google, but it holds its own with its narrower audience. It holds a 2.71% share of the worldwide search engine market, while Google has 91.95%, so it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s No. 2. And that much of the market equates to more than 1 billion unique visitors per month who could see your ads on Microsoft Ads.
There are plenty of reasons to use Microsoft Ads—sometimes in conjunction with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, or instead of—including audience, cost, and your industry.
Microsoft Ads vs Google Ads
As platforms, Microsoft Ads and Google Ads are fairly similar. Setting up an account to advertise on Google is pretty much the same as with Microsoft Advertising. Both require you to bid on keywords, and the winner of the auction for the search term gets the highest placement. There are some key differences that may sway you to use more of your advertising budget in one or the other, though.
Although with both PPC platforms you’ll only pay for what you can afford, there is far less competition on Microsoft Ads than on Google Ads. The average CPC is about 33% lower overall for Microsoft Ads than Google Ads. Although Google advertising costs are typically higher, there’s a larger audience. So, the downside to Microsoft Ads is the traffic quantity is lower, but you’ll reach a different audience.
Google pulls in a greater share of people in the U.S. who only use Google for searches, but 62 million people use both Bing and Google, while 66 million only use Bing. Given that Bing is on the Microsoft network of products, the integration helps those numbers. So, users of Microsoft products are more likely to use Bing. And the demographics of those users are a bit more niche than Google’s users.
The Microsoft Search Network includes more than just Bing, so your ad could pop up on platforms other than Bing. The network includes MSN, Yahoo, and AOL. There are other third-party websites and platforms owned by Microsoft that could be relevant too.
Google Ads show in search results through Google and Google’s search partners, such as YouTube. There’s also the Google Display Network, which allows your display ad to show on third-party websites that are relevant to your keyword or topic.
Who Is Microsoft Advertising or Google Ads Right For?
Both advertising networks are viable for any and all small business and industries, but you may find greater success with certain demographics. Luxury products and financial services do well with Microsoft Ads (Yahoo is a big finance and investment spot), and your dollars stretch further on Bing than on Google because of the lower competition.
If the look of your ad affects your decision, take into account that each ad on Bing results pages get a small label next to it that identifies it as an ad. The label is smaller and harder to see than Google’s.
Microsoft Ads vs Facebook Ads
If you’re trying to decide whether to market your small business on Microsoft Ads or Facebook Ads, you need to take into account that SEM has a slightly different approach than social media marketing, but with the same goal of discovery and conversion. There are some differences to consider when choosing one, the other, or both.
The average CPC for Facebook Ads for all industries is about $1.72, which is only slightly higher than Bing Ads. Given that cost is comparable, depending on your industry, price isn’t the best indicator of which platform you should choose for your advertising spend.
The best way to decide between Microsoft Ads and Facebook Ads comes down to the audience and how your ads display. With Microsoft Ads, your ad shows when a user searches for something specifically related to your industry, business, and keywords. An ad on Facebook shows for an audience based on interests and demographics, and it appears with no search intent—users will see it as they scroll through their feed or on the side of the social media platform.
Microsoft’s ad network, as mentioned above, includes MSN, Yahoo, and Bing, plus third-party websites. Facebook ads will appear on Facebook’s social media platform in the news feed, marketplace, video feed, right column, and on Instagram’s feed, shop, or in the browsing section.
Who Is Microsoft Ads or Facebook Ads Right For?
A Microsoft Ad is better for small businesses that serve a need, such as a service or common product, that people actively search for. Social ads through Facebook (and Instagram) are better for businesses selling products or services people may want, but don’t even know about. Social media advertising is more about discovery than specific search.
Tip: Trying to decide between Facebook Ads and Google Ads? The answer is similar to the above, but one is surprisingly more affordable than the other.
How to Create a Microsoft Ad in 6 Steps
Starting your first Microsoft Ad campaign is easy, and you can do it in six steps. After opening a Microsoft Advertising account and choosing your keywords, you can set up your campaign and set your budget. From your account, you can adjust your daily budget, create more campaigns, and monitor the success of each campaign.
It’s easy to get started with Microsoft Ads, but if you don’t have time to devote to managing your advertising campaigns, you can hire professionals to help. Hibu is a Microsoft Advertising Select Partner, and it’s well-versed in SEM campaigns, so it can help you target the right keywords and get the most for your money.
Here’s how to start your Microsoft Ads campaign:
1. Create a Microsoft Advertising Account
Go to the Microsoft Advertising home page and click the button in the top right corner to sign up. If you already have an account, you’ll be prompted to log in. Otherwise, you can create a new account by entering an email address, name, birth date, and then verifying your email address with a one-time code.
Next, answer a few questions about your business and goals. For example, if you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you may want to use Microsoft Ads to get more foot traffic; whereas online businesses are likely to want more site traffic. You can also choose to target a specific location for your ads; you can make it as broad (worldwide, country) as you’d like, or home in on local areas around your business (county, city, street).
2. Choose Keyword Themes
A keyword theme on Microsoft Advertising is meant to target audiences based on the products or services you offer. So, if you have a cookie-shipping business, you may want to use themes such as cookies delivered, ship cookies, cookies by mail free shipping, fresh baked cookies online, and bakery online ordering.
3. Write Your Microsoft Ad
Microsoft Ads provides a form for you to fill out to create your first ad. It includes a character count below each field, so you know when you’re reaching the limit. Like Google Ads, your second description line is limited to 90 characters.
Once you’ve written your ad, Microsoft prompts you to add your business phone number. It includes tracking information, so you can see in your dashboard how many calls you got through your ad.
4. Set Your Budget
Microsoft Ads offers an estimate on how well your keywords and your industry will do. From this, it also estimates how many clicks you may get based on average click-through rates. You can set your advertising budget as high or low as you’d like. The amount you enter is how much you’ll spend daily—the monthly max is shown below the field.
5. Add Payment Information & Go Live With Your Microsoft Ad
Next, add your business name and address information. On the next screen, you’ll fill out your payment information. You can only pay here by credit or debit card, and you have the option to prepay or post-pay. So, your card will either be charged before you spend advertising dollars on the platform, or after clicks to your ads.
6. Monitor the Success of Your Campaigns
Microsoft Ads recently changed its interface completely. The look is more modern and streamlined than in the past. From here, you can tweak your SEM campaigns, increase or decrease your budget, create new campaigns, and study the analytics of your ad campaigns to understand what works and what doesn’t.
There’s also a keyword planner Microsoft Advertising users can use to find the right keywords for a campaign. You can apply a variety of demographics to target specific areas, languages, and omit words from keyword phrases (negative keywords). You’ll also be able to get an estimate for the CPC for keywords.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are Microsoft ads free?
No, Microsoft ads aren’t free, but they can be affordable for small businesses that want to reach a specific demographic. An account with Microsoft Advertising is free to create, and you can set your advertising budget as high or low as you’d like. One way to advertise your business for free is to list your company in the free Bing for Business directory.
Is Bing better than Google?
Both Bing and Google are popular search engines, and they’re starting to focus more on local businesses and search results. Google holds a higher market share, and is the No. 1 search engine in the world; Bing comes in second place. Google has a more diverse user base, while Bing has a narrower group of users, typically with higher income and in an older age range. Making sure you get your business into both search engines’ business directories (it’s free) is just one local advertising idea.
Is Bing ads the same as Microsoft ads?
Yes. Bing Ads is the former name for what’s now known as Microsoft Advertising. The Microsoft Advertising Network includes MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and Bing, and ads can appear on all four sites, plus third-party websites that are partnered with Microsoft.
Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) lets businesses create a free account on its advertising platform. To create an ad, open a Microsoft Advertising account, set goals and keywords, design an ad, specify a budget, and launch your ad. Microsoft ads is a great place for businesses specializing in luxury items and services and the financial industry that want to target audiences 45 years and older with average annual income of $100,000.