As an agency, we use both Google AdWords and Bing Ads for our clients as standard practice.
We see mixed result across both platforms, depending on the account we’re working on, so it’s difficult to identify trends in the differences between the two networks, when we’re trying to optimise campaigns.
Because both networks are treated differently, unless using an ad-exchange, it’s rare that like-for-like campaigns across the networks mirror each other in terms of set-up.
So, when a new client shared their concerns about Bing advertising proving expensive from them in the past, I recommended that we trialled a new campaign structure that was identical to those that were already working on Google.
Once this was agreed, three campaigns were created in Bing which mirrored the three that were enabled in Google AdWords.
This approach doesn’t always work, however it was a good starting point in this case as the Bing activity was failing to meet its objectives. After running all campaigns simultaneously for 45 days, the results were analysed and the difference between the two networks was significant.
The trial ran for 45 days between the 28th July 2016 and 10th September 2016. There were three campaigns in each of the networks which were identical in their set-up, bidding strategy and landing page experience.
The only noticeable difference was the spend on each of the campaigns. The objective of the trial was to lower the CPA from Bing Ads activity, and match what was being achieved by Google.
Conversions: 1. Tracked phone call, 2. Online form submission.
Despite the sizable difference in the spend across all campaigns, the cost to generate conversions saw Bing prove itself to be a significantly more economical network.
Overall, it was 63.23% cheaper to gain a conversion on Bing compared to Google. After the trial was running for the first 10 days, the results were exceeding expectations, however the concern was whether this performance could be maintained.
Not only was this the case, but I found that that the performance became more consistent throughout the time period.
Why the difference in CPA performance?
When reviewing standard advert metrics such as CPC, average position and CTR, there were only slight differences, suggesting that ‘where’ and ‘how’ the ads were positioned on the SERPs had little impact on the CPA.
It was the conversion rate when users arrived at the website which was so influential.
The overall conversion rate for the three Google campaigns was 5.96% compared to Bing which returned a rate of 8.78%. As the same landing pages were used across both networks, it would appear the characteristics and behaviours of Bing users was substantially different from those who used Google.
This suggestion isn’t something new as we see performance differences across both networks all the time. However, the results gained from this trial were not even close, and I personally I have yet to come across a case where the difference in performance has been this wide.
Going forward, I will be extending the trail over a 90-day period which I hope will provide conclusive evidence of the difference in performance between the two networks for this case study.
During this trial, Bing produced a far more economical performance than Google, but we know that this isn’t always the case.
I, like many PPC managers, have had scenarios where Google has proved to be the most cost-effective network. However, the key takeaway is not to dismiss Bing Ads before giving it a chance.
Despite having a much smaller search engine market share, and a less advanced interface than Google’s, I strongly believe it’s worth investing the time and effort in running some Bing Ad activity. You might gain similar, or even better, results.
Owen Gill is a Digital Marketing Executive at the Nottingham UK based agency, Hallam Internet.