Microsoft Ads, formerly known as Bing Ads until 2019, is not a new traffic source at all. However, it is relatively underrepresented in discussions. That's why we've decided to compile the essential information that an affiliate marketer needs to know about Microsoft Ads for their work.
Let's remind you that as of February 28, 2022, Microsoft has suspended advertising shown to users in Russia. This situation is similar to what Google has done.
Characteristics of the source
Advertising launched through Microsoft Ads is displayed on the Microsoft Search Network, which consists of several platforms: Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and partner websites. Microsoft Ads operates on the principle of Google's contextual media system, where you bid on specific keywords, and the platform matches them with search queries, and if there are matches, your ads are displayed.
In Microsoft Ads, you can create blacklists, which are lists of resources where advertising does not yield the expected conversions.
There is targeting filtering available here to manage the platforms and devices where your ads appear. If you want your advertising to only appear on mobile devices, you just need to select the appropriate filter that excludes tablets and PCs.
When it comes to other features of this source, you can also set up time zone adjustments. Moreover, the system handles everything automatically for the user, and the affiliate marketer doesn't need to manage this manually.
Another convenient feature is the ability to transfer all campaigns and information from other advertising accounts into Microsoft Ads. In other words, if you don't want to set up your advertising campaigns from scratch for this source, you can simply import everything from Google Ads and Facebook Ads using the platform's built-in tool.
There are fewer competitors for many keywords and phrases here, which leads to another pleasant bonus when working with Microsoft Ads - the cost of advertising. The cost per click in any available vertical here will be lower than in Google, which is essentially the main competitor worldwide.
Where there are pros, there are also cons. First and foremost, bid management is not automated here. In other words, you need to set the bid per click manually or select an appropriate conversion action to evaluate performance.
There is no option to run video advertising and display videos within apps here. However, this is balanced by the fact that the platform offers a dual ad placement option. For example, simultaneously in both the bottom and top parts of the page.
The final and perhaps the most significant drawback is that the Microsoft Ads audience is significantly smaller than that of their main competitor, Google. While Google commands around 90% of the market, Microsoft Ads holds approximately 5%. That's why many affiliate marketers consider working with this source to be less profitable and choose not to use it.
What about the Microsoft Ads audience
Despite such a difference in market reach, Microsoft owns the second-largest search engine audience, or rather the combined search engine audience. In the first place, of course, is Google, followed by Bing, Yahoo, and AOL. In total, their audience has exceeded 60 million people and continues to grow.
What is the characteristic of this target audience?
- Half of this audience consists of people aged 45 and above.
- The average income of users who use these search engines is approximately $100,000 per year (above the average).
- In other words, this is a financially capable audience that can afford expensive offers.
- Most users are married, and a significant portion of the target audience are residents of the United States.
In essence, the primary audience of this platform consists of those who have purchased a laptop or computer with pre-installed Windows software. And, of course, if they are accustomed to using licensed software with the built-in Windows search engine rather than downloading Google or another search engine.
It's interesting to note that the majority of traffic to the Bing search engine comes from China (31%), especially from personal computers. 28% of the traffic comes from the United States, and in third place are Germany, France, and Japan, collectively making up 5% of the traffic.
What offers and verticals perform well in Microsoft Ads
What might interest the audience? First and foremost, topics that concern American society, as the majority of the audience consists of residents of the United States. These include solar panels (as the U.S. is increasingly eco-friendly), insect repellents, online streaming, dietary supplements, beauty products (for both women and men), food delivery, and payday loans. These are the most popular queries, and they can generally be suitable not only for the U.S. but also for other regions.
Considering this, it can be said that the following verticals perform well on Microsoft:
- Nutraceuticals (including CBD offers in North America, i.e., products with cannabis where it is legal)
Additionally, on this platform, you can promote dating (both regular online dating and webcam) and e-commerce (small household and other appliances). As for iGaming, in regions where gambling is prohibited, cloaking should be used.
Microsoft Ads account
This platform is accommodating to any business (that doesn't violate the law), whether it's local, medium-sized, or international — it doesn't matter.
The targeting options on this platform are extensive. You can specify your target audience based on age, gender, location, interests, and even considering search queries. Targeting can also be set for a specific region or configured to display your ads to users within a certain city radius.
It's worth noting that Microsoft Ads collects user data not only from search engines but also from LinkedIn, Skype, and Outlook for more precise targeting.
Microsoft has its own list of stop words that the platform does not recommend using. Arbitrators can also create their own set of such keywords.
Languages and countries
You can select the language of the websites on which your advertising will be displayed. The interface localization is available in 12 languages (including Russian). The Microsoft Ads platform itself operates in approximately 35 countries (North America, Western and Eastern Europe, South Africa).
For convenience, Microsoft Ads offers a prepayment format. Arbitrators can deposit a budget with a monthly outlook and gradually use it. If you have a trusted account, you can use the post-payment feature.
By the way, it is recommended to choose a daily spend of $20 here.
There are two advertising options here: search and audience advertising. In the first case, the ad will be displayed at the top of the search engine. In the second option, ads are displayed on non-search-related resources, such as articles in Microsoft Edge, MCN, Outlook, and other partner websites.
Microsoft Ads offers the main types of advertising adapted for various offers and sources. There are Expanded Text Ads - standard ads for search engines, which include a headline, a brief description of the offer, and a link to the landing page. Similar in appearance to them are App Install Ads, with the difference that they lead to app installations.
There is the Multimedia Ads format, which is a banner that includes a headline, ad text, a link to the landing page, and a call to action. There are also Product Ads, a format for advertising products like cards on marketplaces.
On the platform, there are also options designed specifically for Windows OS, such as Smart Search Ads - these ads are displayed in the smart search bar of the Bing search engine.
By the way, it's worth noting that several factors can influence the placement of your ads. Firstly, the size of the payment for a conversion: the higher it is, the higher your ad will rise relative to others. It also depends on how well your ads align with user intent and the success of your previous campaigns.
Microsoft Ads is a platform with a unique audience and no video advertising format. However, within this source, there is less competition (as there aren't as many arbitrageurs rushing to advertise here), and the advertising costs are lower. You can run campaigns through Microsoft Ads on many verticals, and it offers good targeting options. To effectively work with this source, you simply need to consider these characteristics and conduct testing.