Microsoft launched Bing, its new search engine, on June 3, 2009. The company is heavily promoting it in hopes of gaining ground on Google, the industry leader. Bing’s revenue comes mainly from pay-per-click advertising, which many smaller ecommerce firms utilize.
We asked a leading pay-per-click management firm, The Search Agency, what sort of initial results it has seen on behalf of its clients who advertise on Bing. Frank Lee is senior vice president of client services for The Search Agency.
PeC: The Search Agency has placed pay-per-click client ads on Bing. Could you tell us about the size of the advertising there?
Lee: “We manage over 100 million keywords on behalf of our clients across all the major search engines. We have about 50 clients we partner with for paid search. Each client spends anywhere from 3 percent to 10 percent of its budget on Microsoft.”
PeC: How long have the campaigns been running on Bing?
Lee: “We were early beta testers of Microsoft adCenter’s API platform and have been managing accounts in Microsoft since the inception of adCenter. Microsoft launched Bing on June 3, and all our ads that had been running on Live Search transitioned on that day.”
PeC: Please provide some background on The Search Agency.
Lee: “The Search Agency is an integrated online marketing firm, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif. We partner with online merchants and advertisers to drive quality traffic to their sites and convert more visitors into profit-maximizing customers. The firm has been in business since 2002. We have over 100 employees, and offer distinct practice areas in paid search, search engine optimization, display advertising, conversion path optimization, comparison shopping management, and social media.”
PeC: What are your initial results on the Bing campaigns?
Lee: “Campaigns have always performed well on Microsoft from an efficiency standpoint. We’ve always seen good CPAs (cost per acquisitions) or return on investment in managing accounts in adCenter. However, we’ve seen low volume of conversions or sales historically.
“With the introduction of Bing, we’ve seen improvements in conversion and sales volume, as well as efficiency metrics. In fact, we conducted an analysis of a cross-section of accounts, comparing their performance for the last three weeks of Live Search to their first three weeks with Bing. The initial results have been positive both for both Microsoft and our advertisers:
- Click through rate (CTR) up 15 percent;
- Conversions up 6 percent;
- Conversion rate up 18 percent;
- Cost per acquisition (CPA) down 3 percent.
“Although Bing’s search volume has increased on the heels of its aggressive marketing campaign, Microsoft has been more selective on which ads it serves on each search results page, often times electing not to serve any ads at all. As a result, we saw a 22 percent drop in total impressions. But Bing has significantly increased the relevancy of those impressions, yielding double-digit growth in CTRs and conversion rates.”
PeC: What type of products and services are included in the campaigns?
Lee: “Our clients run a wide spectrum from lead generation, ecommerce, retail, branding, and subscription models. Compared to the other search engine buys, Microsoft has always been better, or on par, with the other search engines in terms of efficiency metrics. But again, volume has been historically low though.”
PeC: Anything else on your mind for our readers relative to Bing or paid search?
Lee: “For any business using search marketing to generate sales or leads, the majority of their budget is probably going to Google. However, I advise you to try Bing, via adCenter, now to capitalize on the positive results it could bring. As long as consumer awareness and adoption of Bing continues to increase, this could be a very significant source of conversions, outside of Google and Yahoo!.”