Microsoft just announced that Yahoo! Bing Network is the new name for Microsoft adCenter. The search engine says the new name reflects the commitment of both Microsoft and Yahoo to bring advertisers a broad, high-value, and engaged audience that helps them grow their business.
The advertising platform for Bing Ads is the same as it was for adCenter, but it looks like the log-in page is more in line with the Bing search page with a large, landscape image as the background. The new name of the advertising platform is much more of a rebranding effort rather than changes to the important features of the network. The desktop tool, now called the Bing Ads Editor, has also received a face-lift, but the functionality of the adCenter desktop tool and online interface remain the same.
Microsoft has been hard at work to bring its advertising platform up to par to its Google counterpart. It recently released new features like ad rotation capabilities, URL by match type functionality and other elements to increase the usability of the platform for advertisers. What’s more, it was recently announced that Bing will be the default search engine of the Kindle Fire, which will most likely increase the search market share of the network while decreasing Google’s share.
Google is King of the Mountain when it comes to market share for search. ComScore released their December 2010 search statistics, where Google leads the way with 66.6% of the search market. By comparison, Yahoo was in second place with 16.0% and MSN was third with 12.0% (essentially giving the Search Alliance a 28% share). Google’s numbers are overwhelming and undeniable. If you are running a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, there is a high probability you are either running ads in Google now, or have used their AdWords platform in the past. With that dominant market share comes big-time competition, and it can be very difficult for smaller companies to compete with large companies who can spend ten times or more in PPC campaigns. Optimizing your PPC campaigns, bidding on long-tail keyphrases, and building quality landing pages can help increase your conversion numbers so you can still maintain a presence in Google, without getting buried under an avalanche of competitor ads.
Another option to consider is to allocate budget toward other online media channels. One channel that has recently made positive strides for targeted advertising is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). LinkedIn recently unveiled a new targeting option that allows advertisers to target their PPC ads based on job title, company, and specific Groups LinkedIn members have associated with their account. Imagine being able to run a television commercial or radio spot that is only served to people who have a high probability of purchasing your product or service? This type of granular targeting is an excellent way for smaller companies to expand their online presence and still keep a tightly focused marketing message to their most desired demographic.
For example, if you are a painting supply company specializing in paint brushes and other accessories for contractors and design professionals, you can run a campaign just serving ads to those professionals on LinkedIn. That is a very powerful way to brand your business and at the same time closely manage your advertising costs. While you may not see the huge number of visitors or impressions that you get from Google’s user base, the conversion is more important and you may find these alternative channels to Google, such as LinkedIn, are the perfect fit for your online marketing message.
Working in the online advertising industry, I try my best to stay on top of the latest news and notes. There are many great resources to lean on, from digital (and print) magazines to blogs written by thought leaders in our field. Many times they focus on one specific channel and how businesses either need to get into that channel or how they are currently using it. Other blogs talk about recent news and rumors with the main players in our industry (see Google and the recent talk about acquiring Groupon).
Some of the most informative resources deal with statistics and trends in online advertising. It is extremely beneficial when recommending a specific marketing channel to a client when I can reference expected expenditures in that channel. It provides greater relevance by showing the expected growth in the channel I am recommending. However, the best resources of information are usually the hardest to find…real life performance of businesses implementing multi-channel marketing programs. While it helps to show expected (or predicted) results when proposing a new idea to a client, nothing beats the real thing.
I have been working with a client for the last 3 years managing a multi-channel marketing program. We manage their Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns through Google AdWords and the new Search Alliance (Bing and Yahoo). We also handle all of their SEO efforts and Affiliate marketing. In addition, we manage shopping feeds and remarketing programs on their behalf. They administer their own social media marketing and blogging, but only after extensive consultation and training by our internal teams. In other words, we have had a robust multi-channel program in place since April 2008.
I was recently reviewing the program’s overall performance via Google Analytics, and would like to share the following real life (not predicted) results:
Comparing November 2008 to November 2010
Revenue from Direct traffic increased by 137%
Revenue from Google CPC traffic increased by 142%
Revenue from Google Organic traffic increased by 566%
Revenue from *Search Alliance Organic traffic increased by 214%
Revenue from *Search Alliance CPC traffic increased by 101%
Obviously, we grew the programs over time and many of the multi-channel programs were in their infancy stages which somewhat inflated these figures. To further my point, I went ahead and compared last year to this year (at which time all programs were mature with solid previous statistics throughout the date range comparison):
Comparing November 2009 to November 2010
Revenue from Direct traffic increased by 71%
Revenue from Google CPC traffic increased by 25%
Revenue from Google Organic traffic increased by 65%
Revenue from **Search Alliance Organic traffic increased by 63%
Revenue from **Search Alliance CPC traffic increased by 45%
*For easy comparison I combined MSN and Yahoo stats pre Search Alliance formation*
In these economic times, especially when you factor what the economic climate was like during the time frame of my analysis (November 2008 — today) these are exceptional results. Basically, my client has achieved record sales growth during one of the most difficult times in our economy by leveraging and aggressively pursuing a multi-channel online marketing strategy and achieving excellent real life (not predicted) results.