Google is, without a doubt, the most used search platform in the world. It sees about 7 billion searches every day, and has become such an integral part of everyday life that it’s transformed from a noun to a verb. The answer to any questions these days? “Google it”.

Because Google has the monopoly on search engines, it seems like the obvious place to put an advertisement. Google search and display ads are popular tactics amongst all kinds of businesses. With 86% of the market using Google, your ads have the chance to get in front of a lot more people.

But while it’s the major player in the search space, it isn’t the only one. Bing and Yahoo, while somewhat less popular, are still legitimate search engines used by Australian consumers. And like Google, they also offer opportunities for search and display advertising.

But are they worth investing time and money in? Truthfully, it’s not something we get asked often. But after a deep dive into some analytics returned some curious results, we discovered it is something that we should be considering more.

More traffic doesn’t always mean more conversions. Logic tells us that Google, as the most used search engine, will be the best place to get seen by the most prospective buyers. More traffic, more searches, more eyes on your ad, more clicks. But when it comes to advertising, higher traffic also means higher competition. Everyone’s trying to get attention on Google. This affects your ads in two ways:

Higher cost

The more competition out there, the harder and more expensive it will be to compete for keywords. For those with a smaller budget, it may completely price them out of search ads. They can still go for slightly less expensive display ads, but these traditionally do not deliver the same results or render the same amount of attention.

Lower quality leads

Yes, you’re reaching more people. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the people you want to reach. Bounce rates can be very high on Google as people have so many options to click on – if they don’t immediately find what they want, they’ll leave. This means potentially paying for the ads without gaining much from it.

This is not to say that Google ads aren’t a great way to advertise and market to key prospects. But for those looking for results with a lower budget, or a new way to capture leads, going elsewhere could be beneficial.

The test: Bing vs Google

Even as a marketing agency, we’d never seriously looked into advertising on search engines other than Google – it certainly wasn’t a tactic we’d been presenting to clients.

The whole idea of advertising on other search engines came when, after taking a deep-dive look at analytics across our client portfolio, we noticed a couple of our clients were not only getting organic visits from Bing, but that traffic was converting and engaging on the website at a far better percentage. So, we did what any good marketer would do – ran a test.

We started running search ads on Bing (which also show on Yahoo) for one of the clients who had traffic from Bing that was converting at 30% higher rate than Google traffic. We also continued to run their existing display ads on Google. The results were far from ambiguous:

  • Click Through Rate was 35 times higher (Google display ads vs. Bing search ads)
  • Cost Per Click dropped (from 98 cents for a Google display ad to 73 cents for a Bing search ad)
  • Big ads experience 52 times more conversions
  • Bounce rate dropped by 34%, and the overall quality of new users driven to the website improved

Why, with such a lower user market, did Bing come out on top? There could be several reasons, but the conclusion we drew was simply with less traffic, it’s easier for searchers to find what they want. Less competition for the advertiser and less rubbish for the prospect to wade through leads to more quality clicks.

Bing is also known to attract a much more senior audience, as well as Yahoo (included in Bing advertising) being the preferred search engine of finance professionals.

What’s going to work best for you?

In this example, it’s clear to see that taking a chance with non-Google advertising paid off. And it’s definitely something we’ll keep an eye on for other clients. But it’s not something we’re going to do for everyone.

There’s no guarantee the same results will work for every business or every campaign. So, how do you determine if it’s a valuable choice for your business?

  1. Make sure it works for your audience

There are a few ways to determine whether ads that aren’t on Google will still reach your ideal audience and the people searching for you:

  • Check your analytics to determine which engine your organic searches are coming from, and dive a little deeper to compare the bounce rate and conversion rate of those different search engines.
  • Do a little research on search engine by industry – some are more inclined to use Bing or Yahoo
  • Consider your audience demographic. Those who are older or less tech-orientated are less likely to reset their default browser
  1. Does quality over quantity work for you?

It pays to consider the fact that if you choose to advertise on Bing and Yahoo, your ads will be reaching significantly fewer people. It’s truly a case of quality over quantity, so you need to decide whether you’d rather reach the few, or you want to aim for the masses.

  1. Check your budget.

Google ads are, on average, five to ten times more expensive than Bing ads. If you can afford to compete for keywords on Google, then it could be worth sticking to Google search ads. But if you’ve checked your data and you have hits from other engines, and your budget is low, it’s likely that you’ll get a better ROI running search ads on Bing than if you stick with display ads on Google.

If you’ve done your research and are keen to give non-Google ads a go, then there’s not much standing in your way. Ads don’t differ much between platforms, so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to try advertising on a different one. You can even directly import a Google ad campaign into Bing if you already have one set up.

This can be a lot to get your head around – especially if you’re not particularly versed in the ways of search and display ads in general. align.me’s digital marketing experts can help you effectively add search engine advertising to your marketing execution. Click here to get in touch.