Google Ads vs Microsoft Ads
Which PPC Platform Is Best?
We would argue that paid search advertising (also known as PPC, or pay-per-click advertising) is the most effective way to connect with potential customers. If you look at the data, it’s a pretty safe statement to make. However, when you’re trying to decide which paid search platform is best, it’s not as cut and dried. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) are the two dominant platforms. Obviously, Google is the giant, but many businesses are pouring large portions of their ad spend into Bing. Should you? Should you move to Bing entirely? If you do use both, which should get a larger percentage of your advertising budget?
To help you* decide where to allocate your marketing dollars, we’re going to dive into the pros and cons of each platform and so you can make an informed choice!
*Just so you know we know what we’re talking about, Empirical360 has managed over $15,000,000 in ad spend between both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. We’re also certified Google Partners, and Accredited Professionals with Microsoft Ads. We’ve been doing this for a while, in a variety of different industries, so we have extensive experience with both and can provide some personal insight to help you answer the Google vs. Microsoft question.
How do they work?
Google Ads includes two distinct advertising networks: the Search Network, where text ads appear on the SERP (search engines results page), and the Display Network (GDN), where visual ads appear on a variety of websites like YouTube, Gmail, and more. Because Google receives roughly 4 million searches per minute, and the word “search” is actually synonymous with the brand (e.g. “just google it”), it’s the leader of the PPC pack…so much so that it’s actually under an antitrust investigation as we write this.
Microsoft Ads functions very similarly to Google. Under the Microsoft rebrand that happened earlier this year, the platform actually includes three search engines (Bing, Yahoo, and AOL), so when you advertise using Microsoft Ads, your ad is shown on all three search engines. Microsoft Ads includes two networks as well, the Microsoft Search Network and the Microsoft Audience Network (a display network).
Both platforms offer search and display advertising. If you’re an Ecommerce business, you can use either to run shopping campaigns, and any business can use either to run retargeting ads. Google Ads and Microsoft Ads are very similar as far as the services they offer; while there are minor difference in the style, the language, and the organization, the main differences you should be looking at are those that affect performance.
The differences that matter & which platform has the edge
Traffic is a major consideration when it comes to PPC – not the only one, but a major one. The more searches there are, the more likely more people are to search for your product or service and click on your ads. Google is the clear winner when it comes to reach. Latest numbers have Google’s search engine market share worldwide at around 88%, and Microsoft at 6%. You’re going to see much higher search volume in Google than in Microsoft.
However, Microsoft does boast a potential reach of 53 million desktop searchers not reached by Google, and a larger share of the desktop search market. So if you are looking to reach an older demographic that’s not glued to their phones, Microsoft Ads allows you to reach this audience.
Because there is less traffic in Microsoft’s networks & search engines, there isn’t as much competition. Fewer advertisers in the space mean that you can bid less on keywords than you do on Google and get the same results, depending on your industry. The CPC is usually much lower in Microsoft. However, if you’re not getting the right kind of traffic, the cost to convert that click may be higher (something to watch for). Overall, though, Microsoft is the clear winner when it comes to cost effectiveness.
Conversion Rates (Tie)
Conversion rates are probably one of the most important things to look at. Other than looking at revenue, that’s how you measure results. We’ve achieved the lowest conversion rates in every industry we’ve worked on using both platforms, and we’ve found that Google & Microsoft have comparable conversion rates. Sometimes we do see for specific industries get higher conversion rates in Google Ads, but there’s no apparent reason why, so that’s why we’re calling it a tie.
Features & Support (Google)
Google Ads definitely has more advanced features than Microsoft Ads. Honestly, if we were to sum up our thoughts on Google vs. Microsoft, we’d say that Microsoft is like Google but six months ago. They’ve got some catching up to do when it comes to tracking, their new content network is small, they just began rolling out app ads, etc.
We’d also say that Microsoft Ads is much worse when it comes to advertiser support. It’s tough to get in touch with anyone, and in our experience, even their advanced support is limited in its response…when we have issues, mostly what we hear is “adjust your bids” which is an elementary, and not always sufficient, solution.
Granular Control (Tie)
We’re big fans of granular control – the more tightly you can control variables, the better you can optimize. Lately, though, both platforms are leaning more towards automation. Google, with all of their recent updates, is leading the way, but Microsoft usually follows Google’s lead (again, it’s like Google, but six months ago).
Display Networks (Google)
Besides cost and volume, this is probably the biggest factor for us; the difference is like night and day. Google Display Network has a much wider reach, and the targeting is much more accurate. Google definitely wins this category.
Which should you use?
It depends on your capacity, your values, and your business goals.
If you have the budget to afford both, we say do both. It’s not hard to duplicate and import your Google campaigns into Microsoft. When you use both PPC platforms, you can look at your analytics and see which is performing better, and then allocate spend to that account. Using both has the added benefit of increasing your reach even farther, which is going to increase your conversion rates and your revenue.
If you’re just beginning in advertising and Google is too expensive, try Bing and see what it can do for your business. Google is superior in many ways, but Bing is cheaper and is still definitely going to get you results until you’re able to scale and begin with Google. If you value desktop traffic and are targeting an older audience, or a corporate one, Bing may be a great choice to start with regardless of your budget.
If you primarily want to run display advertisements, and don’t have a particularly large amount of ad spend lying around, stick with Google. You won’t be disappointed.
Have questions about how Google Ads compares to Microsoft Ads, or what kind of results you can expect to receive from each based on your industry? Ask us in the comments or send us a message! We specialize in PPC marketing, and understand just how much businesses can grow when they have the right PPC strategy backing their marketing. Our team members are experts at both Google and Bing, so we know what it takes to run high performing campaigns on both platforms! Get in touch with us to find out how we can help your business make more revenue.
Shea Duncan - Author
Director of Content Marketing
Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!