Do Bing Ads Work?
Firstly, I think Bing Ads do work – for some people.
Just not those people spending five bucks a day like I was, treating it like Facebook ads.
I turned to Bing Ads as I wanted to try out PPC search marketing with a service I wanted to market, and unlike Facebook where you’re kind of shoving your ad under folk’s noses, whether they like it or not, it seemed to me that maybe my ad ‘spend’ might be better directed toward a platform where my ad is listed for people actually interested in it; because they’re actively searching for it.
I had a voucher from Bing for some £75 I think it was, so thought I’d try it out.
I determined I wouldn’t go over that £75 too, thinking by the time it was exhausted I’d have this whole Bing Ads and PPC thing mastered…
Ah, would that were so.
Like your first trip to the casino poker tables with a similar amount, you’re in and out in a flash, and your money gone.
But I didn’t know that then; that I was the rube wading into Bing’s card shark aquarium.
Not Google Ads
This is what Bing had going most of all for me – it wasn’t Google.
Google is bigger, it’s got that 60%+ search engine market share, and it charges more because of it. Also, it’s got a less than welcoming reputation re its service team, and a generally more ‘difficult’ nature.
A lot of users of both systems say Bing is more accommodating, has better targeting features, cheaper to use and with better returns.
Heck, I was in!
It’s less popular for sure, but that is relative: it is still used by tens of millions of online users a day.
And some marketers say it has it’s own demographic of older PC users, people happy to use the default install of Internet Explorer or just always used it; the old timers of the Web.
So, with my £75 coupon burning a hole in my email inbox, I signed up and gave it a whirl.
Actually, I gave it several whirls over time, and all the whirls were pretty much the same.
There’s plenty of articles and Youtube vids out there demo-ing the sign-up procedure and how to kick off an ad, so I’ll not add yet another. I found it pretty straightforward and reasonably self-explanatory (working off Facebook ads manager terminology).
The only bit I had trouble with was turning on the UTM settings so I could get stats for Google Analytics.
It was tucked away in an upper menu, and a switch that when once applied, meant Bing would automatically apply UTM parameters – which was okay with me. It was clear which campaign my Bing one was in Google, that was all I cared about.
I liked too that I could target demographics such as age, locality and only run the ad at certain times of the day.
All of those specifics I’d gleaned from Facebook ads: who my demographic was, and thus who best to target as most likely to be interested in clicking.
You could argue, though, that that isn’t so germane as the keyword selection, as you’re not paying until someone does click (PPC after all) but I was also applying info from Google Analytics, and that said my demographic were not just likely to click and then bounce, but have a good look round, and be generally more interested.
And generally more likely to take some action that I’d like and think was worth the cost of that click.
So, I was being a super-marketer, applying all that high-level data that I’d previously gathered, and being all clever and professional… at least in my imagination.
It seemed reasonable, though. In fact I stated that in a post to a marketer that I deemed so much more advanced than me, and you could almost see the quizzical WTF look on his face in his reply. Making use of Facebook ad campaigns and the story it told on Google Analytics, in order to try and get the best return from your Bing targeting, was obviously something that had never occurred to the guy – he just told me, that Bing Ads didn’t work like Facebook ads, and to just stick your ad front of everyone.
Which still seems like wasted ad spend to me, if you’re on a limited budget and previous campaigns have revealed a demographic more likely to perform a certain action. Why waste money putting it front of people to click on and bounce, and rack up a charge on your PPC, if you’ve data that says they’ve a demonstrable history of that – as opposed to a data set that’s demonstrated greater propensity to stay and enquire/potentially purchase.
I still think that’s good logic and a more efficient use of ad budget.
But my ‘mentor,’ didn’t seem to have a f@*king clue what I was speaking about, and my explanations just kept getting a reply of “let the audience decide.”
Decide to waste your money? Okay. Whatever. One thing you soon learn on many a forum or Facebook group, is how dumb a lot of the guys you look up to are – and how much blind luck is required in this game (which is true of all business).
So I stuck with my game plan.
For all the good it did me.
First time off, I set up a daily ad spend of £5 a day, with a maximum monthly spend of £75.
Thinking that will keep me right, and when I say “right,” I mean on the right side of my money as opposed to handing it to Bing.
But I did still have to supply my credit card details and confirm them, before I could use my voucher.
So, after getting my first campaign created, I set it loose.
The daily spend was anything from just under £5 to just under £6 – sometimes £7. So I noted Bing was quite cavalier at going over budget.
For my money, I got anything from two to five clicks from it.
Being a total rube, I didn’t set the UTM tags on my first campaign ether, relying on Google to ‘kinda’ tell me where my traffic was coming from.
That said, I was happy with the results – I was seeing some action after all – I was getting clicks.
Except… they were mostly 00:00 or 00:01 duration sort of clicks.
And they weren’t even showing up in Bing Webmaster, just Google.
I wasn’t one for conspiracy theories before Bing
I queried for why that was with Bing ads support – that Bing didn’t even record it’s own sent traffic to my site, and got a less than satisfactory ‘answer’ than didn’t answer anything.
I also had Inspectlet hooked up to this site and it wasn’t just a single page visit that Google was erroneously ear marking as 00:00, as I could see from Inspectlet’s stats (where I could more or less marry up the times) that I really was getting zero second, or thereabouts, traffic from Bing!
I did some digging and came across a lot of discussion online re bot clicks being included in all the platforms, despite assurances that such clicks were discounted. A lot of folks reckoned it was just part and parcel of using paid ads, and you had to write-off up to 25% of your ad budget to it.
That’s pretty damn significant but if you’re spending £100, at least you’re getting £75 worth of ‘goods.’
If you’re spending £5, then you’re maybe getting one good click a day, and the rest is bots.
I noticed too that when I was running a 24hr ad, I could get all my clicks used up within two hours in the wee hours of the morning – so I have to call BS on that being human interaction.
Man, was I annoyed after that experiment, but at least it was only a few quid of my money (the ad overran) and nearly all of it was Bings a la the free voucher.
But a few weeks later, when Facebook wasn’t working for me, I thought I’d return.
This time, though, I implemented UTM tags and instigated that the ad only ran from 8am – 12pm.
To no avail as the results were the suspect same as before.
My Facebook visitors, as verified by Google Analytics and Inspectlet, were moving around and browsing the site. Just like you’d expect a real person to act.
My Bing visitors were almost immediately bouncing after a second or two.
What made this even more suspect was the landing page didn’t include any prices for the service, that was another click over. The price page was the second highest visited page on the site as you might expect – but Bing visitors, after having searched for this service and clicked on it, weren’t even interested enough to check out how much it cost? Like nearly everyone else?
Just total bollocks. Getting annoyed again just thinking about it.
Another waste of money with Bing, and didn’t endear me to pump in a higher budget to try and get over what I strongly believed to be a bot problem.
But I gave them one more chance a few weeks after that… and got the same result again. You know what Einstein said the definition of madness is.
So, no, even though my own experience may be limited, I still wouldn’t advise you take to Bing.
I have heard tell of folks making a lot of money from Bing – but that was amidst talk of a five figure ad spend. Mine was a double figure one in total so bear that in mind.
Still… I’ve not sworn of PPC altogether, that’d be ridiculous, so this may well be revisited…
With some changes.
If you’re PPC-ing then you’re looking to make money online. For that you need (usually) a website and a bit of training wouldn’t go a miss either.
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If you’ve got the temperament, Wealthy Affiliate might be something that works for you. You can read my review here.
Recommended further reading:
Not Bing ads per se, but the art of copywriting – which you’ll need to write a good ad. A classic and still as relevant as the day it was published.
How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone
By Drew Eric Whitman