Microsoft Ads: Better than Google Ads?

Are Microsoft Ads better than Google Ads?

As an online shop owner, you most probably already know that search engines are great places to attract new customers to your online shop. Advertising platforms such as Google Ads can help you get more visibility for your website. In this article, we would like to introduce you to an alternative to Google Ads: Microsoft Advertising. What is Microsoft Ads about and how can you use the platform of the biggest search engine competitor to promote your products?

What is Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising (formerly known as Bing Ads) is an advertising platform that allows advertisers all around the globe to create and manage ads and ad campaigns on various Microsoft platforms.

The ads can be displayed in the search engines of the so-called Microsoft Search Network, among others. These include several search engines owned by Microsoft, such as Bing, Yahoo, AOL and DuckDuckGo.

In contrast to Google Ads, "Microsoft Advertising" refers to the entire advertising tool, while "Microsoft Ads" refers to the individual advertisements.

What to know about Microsoft Advertising

Let's now take a closer look at how Microsoft Advertising works and what you need to know about it.

The platform is - just like its competitor at Google - a so-called Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising system. Advertisers place a bid with the value they are willing to pay to have users of search engine click on their ad on the search results page.

As a matter of fact, advertisements can not only be displayed in Microsoft search engines, but also on partner websites, within Microsoft Office, and on third-party websites.

Marketers and shop owners can set up their own ad campaigns and use ad targeting to address a specific target group with their ads.

Recommended Reading:
The Perfect Google Ad (+ Checklist)

microsoft ads create campaign screen

Source: Microsoft Advertising

With Microsoft Advertising, marketers are able to create search campaigns as well as shopping campaigns. Search campaigns include ads that will be displayed throughout the Microsoft Search Network.

Google Shopping  A step-by-step guide to setting up your account Download whitepaper

Microsoft search campaigns

When using Microsoft Advertising, one can choose from two types of ads when creating a search campaign:

  • Search ads

  • Audience ads

Microsoft Search Ads

Search ads will be displayed in the search results of Bing and other Microsoft owned search engines. If the content of the ad matches a user’s search query, it will then be displayed as a standard text ad.

Just like with Google Ads, marketers can optimise their ads with keywords, hereby increasing the likelihood of their ads appearing for corresponding search queries made by users (aka potential customers).

Recommended Reading:
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Microsoft offers a dedicated keyword planner tool:

microsoft ads keyword tool and keyword planner

Source: Microsoft Advertising

Apart from the Keyword planner, using Microsoft Advertising, you can also add ad extensions to your ad campaign to improve its quality, its visibility, and its relevance for search engines.

Basically, these extensions are additional pieces of information about your business or products. In MS, they are free to add to your campaigns, however, you’ll be charged every time the concerned ads generate clicks.

You can select, among others, the following ad extensions for your campaigns in Microsoft:

  • Sitelink Extensions: They allow you to include additional links in your ads that will direct users to specific pages on your website.

  • Call Extensions: Using call extensions, your business’ phone number will appear in your ads.

  • Location Extensions: You can show users the directions for your local shop or the closest business location in your ads.

  • Review Extensions: With the review extensions, customer reviews from third-party providers can be displayed in your ads.

  • Image Extensions: Visual elements will be added to your ads.

  • Structured Snippet Extensions: They allow you to add more content to your ads.

  • Promotion Extensions: You can highlight special sales and offers for your online shop in your ads.

example of microsoft ad in bing results page

Source: Bing search

More information about all of the ad extensions available in Microsoft Advertising can be found in the Microsoft Ads help center.

Microsoft Audience ads

Audience ads, on the other hand, can be displayed throughout the Microsoft Audience Network. Unlike the Search Network, these responsive ads are then shown in the Microsoft Edge internet browser, the web version of the Outlook mail program, MSN, and other Microsoft partner websites.

However, audience ads must comply with a series of Microsoft policies.

Microsoft shopping campaigns

In addition to a variety of different search campaigns, it’s possible to create shopping campaigns as well.

As with Google Shopping, you can have your products displayed directly in the search and shopping section in Bing and other Microsoft surfaces.

However, you will have to sign up for an account in the so-called Microsoft Merchant Center hub. You can access the tool and register in the Microsoft Advertising tool.

image of woman touching hologram globe

Source: Shutterstock.com/TippaPatt

Also, once you have set up your online shop at the Merchant Center, to have your products properly displayed in Bing and its dedicated shopping tab, you will need to upload your shop’s product catalogue.

Back in the Microsoft Advertising hub, you can select one out of the two shopping campaign types:

  • Standard shopping campaign

  • Smart shopping campaign

In order to create smart shopping campaigns, you’ll have to enable conversion tracking for your website. Adding a UET tag in the source code of your website, conversion tracking will automatically be set up for your online shop.

As the UET tag tracks your shop’s conversions and the shopping activities of your website’s visitors, it provides Microsoft with relevant information about your customers and your online shop.

This information will then be used to allow for automated bidding and targeting options on the Microsoft Search Network.

In addition, retargeting lists can be created.

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Unlike standard shopping campaigns, smart campaigns use automatic bids and automatic targeting settings.

According to Microsoft, when it comes to displaying shopping ads, smart shopping ads are taken priority over standard shopping ads if they target the same product.

When creating a shopping campaign, you can again decide where you would like your ads to be shown: as search ads displayed in the SERPs or as audience ads in the Microsoft Audience Network.

Microsoft Ads or Google Ads?

You’ve already used Google Ads to promote your online shop? If that is the case, then some features about Microsoft’s ad platform mentioned in this article must have sounded familiar to you.

Generally speaking, both platforms are very much alike and offer similar features.

However, one of the biggest differences between Google and Microsoft’s search engines is the search volume. Being the search engine that most internet users worldwide turn to, Google generates significantly more search queries than Microsoft's most popular search engine Bing does.

Therefore, ads displayed in Google tend to generate more impressions, clicks, conversions and sales than ads displayed in Bing and other search engines.

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As there are significantly more users using the Google search, a huge amount of brands turn to Google to place their ads there. This means, however, that the competition will most probably be significantly greater when using Google Ads.

What is more, the market share of Microsoft and its advertising platform has substantially increased lately and just like Google, marketers worldwide can use it.

For shop owners planning to sell their products abroad or for those whose business is already active in multiple countries, MS Advertising allows for an easy implementation of the localisation process. Currently, the advertising platform is available in 40 different languages.

Speaking of localising your website… check out our whitepaper to learn all about the internationalisation of your website and successfully selling your products to shoppers in new markets:

Expanding to new markets?  To succeed globally, adapt locally. Download checklist

Apart from the localisation options, it is possible to import Google Ads or even Facebook Ads campaigns to Microsoft Advertising.

Conclusion

At the beginning of this article, we raised the question if Microsoft Advertising was a better advertising platform than Google Ads.

Even if Google is still (by far) the most popular search engine in the world, the potential and reach of Microsoft Ads shouldn’t be underestimated.

After all, several search engines belong to the Microsoft family, as well as the entire Microsoft Audience Network.

In addition, the competition at Microsoft is significantly smaller and the costs per click and the bids are often lower than at Google.

Our conclusion is: if you want to make the most out of search engine marketing to boost sales for your online shop, we recommend you use both advertising platforms. This way, you can give your online shop more visibility and advertise your products in a targeted manner and have them seen by different audiences.

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This article was originally published on our German Trusted Shops Blog: Microsoft Ads: Eine gute Alternative zu Google Ads?

31/08/22
Lena Wolff

Lena Wolff

Lena studied Multilingual Communication in Germany and now works in Content Marketing. She normally focuses on e-commerce and online marketing topics in the UK and DACH markets.

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