Bing Ads & Google AdWords: Strengths and Weaknesses

Bing Ads & Google AdWords: Strengths and Weaknesses

BING AND GOOGLE each touts the benefits of their own respective paid search products over those of the competition. But that’s not surprising — after all, that’s elementary marketing, especially in the highly competitve realm of Internet technology.

Bing even goes so far as to promote a “Bing It On” search engine, which posits Bing results against Google results in a double-pane search engine results page (SERP). For its own part, Google accused Bing in 2011 of copying search results. Search Engine Land writer Danny Sullivan covered the story in his article, “Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results.” Clearly, if you want an impartial comparison of these two highly competitive search engines, you’re going to have to do a lot of reading. After all, each respective camp will leverage its advantages and downplay its weaknesses. Below, we try to lighten the load. We have sifted through the MarComm mumbo jumbo, breaking down some legitimate studies and analyses into digestible, bite-sized pieces. (Bear in mind that these things change quickly. Today’s weakness may be overcome quickly by tomorrow’s improvement.)  

Advantages & Disadvantages

The truth is: Google is a larger, more popular search engine. As such, it costs a bit more. Meanwhile, Bing is coming up in popularity, making it an increasingly interesting ad buy for budget-conscious marketers. While it is not true that one search engine is “better” than another, there are some distinctions that may help make your paid search options a bit more clear:

Search Query (and Competitor) Volume

Google handles roughly 65 percent of keyword searches conducted online in the U.S., according to a “June 2013 U.S. Search Engine Rankings” report from comScore, an Internet analytics company. That volume represents audience share. If 65 percent of users prefer Google, then 65% of your potential market likely uses it, too. On the other hand, if the audience is using Google, your competitors are as well — and that means higher costs in the form with competing ads and ad bids.

Social Media Integration

One could argue that Bing has a distinct advantage in social integration. While Google marketers may elect to link their Google AdWords and Google+ accounts, Bing goes quite a bit further. Through partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others Bing populates a “Social Sidebar” on its SERPs. Social media users can “connect” their social profiles, authorizing Bing to access public profiles and friends list. In turn, SERPs will display social content relating to keywords, terms, and phrases. Additionally, Bing offers a Social Search, which includes a much-needed Twitter search.

Location Targeting

Google AdWords probably has the edge over Bing Ads when it comes to location targeting. Marketers can narrow their target market by country, territory, city, or region. They can also set a radius around a specific location or exclude certain areas.

Language Targeting

In his critical analysis, “Is Google AdWords Falling Behind Bing Ads?,” blogger Andrew Wang concedes that that Google still has the multilingual advantage over Bing. “One of the main pain points to Bing Ads is that it doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of different languages,” Wang writes. “While Google AdWords boasts over 40 different languages for you to use for campaign targeting, Bing Ads only has six language options.”

Quality Score Reporting

A major factor in determining which ad is displayed as a search engine result is the Quality Score. The Quality Score is determined by the search engine based on the relevancy of the ad to the landing page on the other end of its click. As you can imagine, knowing your ad’s quality score is crucial for campaign management. As PPC Hero account manager Sam Owen explains it in his blogpost, “5 Ways adCenter Beats adWords,” however, Google could do a lot more to in the way of tools to “diagnose and monitor quality score changes from day to day.” Meanwhile, Microsoft adCenter provides an historic quality score report. “If you can tie a drop in quality score to the exact date you rolled out new landing pages, it makes your life a lot simpler,” Owen writes.

Copy Restrictions

Google AdWords adheres to a relatively strict policy regarding ad content and copy. For example, it blocks spam-resembling ads — those that demand “Click Now” or promote pharmaceutical products, for example. Bing Ads has fewer copy restrictions. “You don’t have to look very hard to find many stories of advertisers who have had their AdWords account suspended,” reports Jackie Goldstein of Pixel/Point Press, in his blogpost, “Five Reasons to Consider Bing Ads Instead of Google AdWords.” Goldstein adds, “Some of these [Google AdWords] policies, such as no ‘bridge pages’ or no ‘get rich quick schemes’ are often overly severe and incorrectly flagged.”

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