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As a Head of Paid Media, I often participate in new clients pitching and, more often than not, I am surprised at how companies are quick to dismiss Microsoft Ads as a good advertising platform for them. However, in most cases, this could not be further from the truth. This is why I wanted to showcase in a few points why you should look at Microsoft Ads twice before dismissing it and potentially losing out on a great opportunity for your company.

1. When the cat is away…

One of the great advantages of Microsoft Advertising is that it often has a less competitive auction compared to Google. This can translate into better CPCs, which will in turn have a direct impact on your ROAS. Looking at our retail clients for the past 3 years, we actually notice certain stability in cost per clicks from Microsoft Ads whereas Google paints a much darker picture in recent years.

In fact, when looking at external data from various sources you may find Microsoft Ads’ CPCs to be up to 60% cheaper than Google Ads at times.

2. Gen W, X, Y, Z

Part of the stereotype circling around Microsoft Ads is its lack of reach or richness of audiences, especially around the younger generations. Although there is some truth there (Bing has a 12% market share and do not forget about search partners), it does not necessarily make it a weakness, and for some businesses, this can actually become a strength!

For instance, data shows that 40% of the Microsoft Audience Network is aged between 35 and 54 years old. This is especially noticeable when you look at average order values between Google and Bing. In our case, looking at retail again, but this time all campaign types, Bing is always higher apart from 2020 slightly falling behind due to the particularity of that year (especially budgeting wise). This once again helps in producing higher ROAS for your campaigns.

Moreover, despite having a lesser market share than the giant that Google is, Bing is actually growing in popularity even amongst younger generations especially on desktop where it has grown its overall share by 41% since 2019.
Check out the Microsoft Search Network data.

3. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy

Microsoft Ads is incredibly humble and knows that it can’t always compete with Google Ads, and it is for this reason that they work hard on delivering services that are as close as possible as what Google Ads does. If you ask me this is a brilliant mindset to have as a company, as they focus on making it as easy as possible for the end consumer to use their tool whilst also being able to focus on their own innovations on the side.
Probably the best feature to demonstrate this would be the import functionality built in to Microsoft Ads, allowing you not only to import your campaigns from Google Ads, but also to do it via schedules so every change made on Google are replicated on Microsoft. At Bell, we are no strangers to this functionality, although more often than not, we mainly use it once, when creating accounts. As we are very data-driven, we prefer optimising campaigns differently on each search engine.

4. Google is not the only one that Innovates…

As mentioned earlier, Microsoft often replicates Google’s features in an effort to make their platform as easy to use as possible. However, they are also innovating a lot, especially in recent years. For instance, Microsoft Ads is now able to use LinkedIn audiences in UK and USA based on Job, Companies and Industries. This gives it an incredible advantage over Google Ads in the B2B world. Moreover, MSAN, the equivalent of the GDN for Google, allows you to leverage these audiences with images (and soon videos) or directly in Outlook. In fact, another recent announcement from Microsoft was the arrival of Facebook import in order to easily recreate display campaigns based on your Facebook Ads activity.

At Bell Digital we are ready to help you launch your Paid Media activity, with 15+ years of expertise spent on adapting and perfecting our methodologies on a variety of advertising platforms such as Microsoft Ads. We are a Microsoft Advertising Select Partner and a Premier Google Partner.

Get in touch to learn more about our services. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

It is no secret that Paid Search, and more particularly Google Ads, is evolving at an incredible pace.

Even though 2020 was a weird year for everyone and every industry, Google kept changing up core systems that we have grown to consider staples of PPC. In the last year alone, we have seen fewer details in SQR, phasing out of Gmail ads as a standalone campaign type, expansion of more automated bidding and campaigns such as Smart Shopping and even more recently a major change in match types with the announcement of BMM’s death. Even Microsoft Ads is disturbing our habits with the upcoming removal of Manual Bidding being replaced by eCPC (honestly, we all thought Google would do it first).

So when I hear the question “What will Paid Search be like in 5 years?” I often feel like the answer could be unrecognisable at this stage. Nonetheless here are some of my favourite answers.

A push for automation

Microsoft Ads has just announced it so I think this is probably the safest guess at this point. In 5 years there will no longer be any purely manual bidding solutions on the two mainstream Search Engine platform that are Google and Microsoft Ads. Going forward I would argue that even a semi-automated strategy such as eCPC will no longer be available and we will be looking at a landscape made of tCPAs, tROAS and who knows maybe even new ones. tMargins could be of interest?

Dynamic Ads

Another very recent news that dropped in 2021 is the default search ad becoming RSA instead of ETA. We had seen the signs before with certain Google Ads account no longer having the option to create text ad. Technically ETA is still available to create and use but the same way the original text ads were slowly replaced by ETAs, I bet you that ETAs are on the same trajectory with RSA now.

What is Quality Score even?

Quality Score is another one of those core systems that Google is probably boiling in the inside to phase out. It has been with us forever and dictates how everyone competes in the search auction but is it really that important nowadays?

For me the answer remains yes, but simply not as much as it used to be, here are the reasons:

- Ad strength: Google has been pushing Advertisers very strongly on improving ad strength for our RSA Ads for a while now. The fact that RSA is now becoming the default ad type will only reinforce this message and if you think about it, ad strength could easily replace ad relevance someday.

- Optimisation score: Another way of measuring your campaigns up to Google’s standards. I personally have mixed feelings about this one, because as much as the recommendations can be useful sometimes, a lot of it is usually irrelevant in my case. However, remember that we are talking about 5 years in the future and by then I could see this becoming a much stronger tool for both advertisers and Google.

- Smart Bidding: Now this one is a bit more out of the box but hear me out! What is probably the most important thing to consider and work on when you are on smart bidding? For me, it is your Conversion Rate. It is simple, if you put a campaign on a tCPA and that your CR is not good enough for your given target, then you lose Impression Share and thus lose potential Traffic. The next evolution of PPC in an automated world is going to be CRO and ultimately what is CRO about if not landing page experience.

Could you imagine Google Ads without keywords?

I can! Think about it for a second, in the past two years we have seen 2 different evolutions of match type with close variant V1 for misspells and close variant V2 which let’s be honest is a mess. We are now in 2021 and as I mentioned before BMM will be gone by the end of the year leaving us with a new Phrase MT and Google pushing us towards Broad. Add to that the DSA Campaigns & Ad groups as well as the new Performance Max campaign type (in beta) not running on keywords either and you get some hint of a future without keywords.

More ad & extension formats

Google is known to be testing a few things on the SERP every year, would it be visually or more especially the format the ad appears to the searchers, form ads for instance? It is thus highly likely that we will see new ad or extension formats coming our way in 5 years. I would not be surprised to see industry-specific formats coming and going by then.

In conclusion, what will we see in 5 years? To sum it all up the clear answer is more automation and less direct control. That is not necessarily a bad thing though, as mentioned before, automation pushes advertisers to make their website better. So even though less time could be spent on optimising your accounts, we will still need to strategise. If you are in an agency, that will also mean more time accompanying your client both on advertising platforms and on their website, purely on CRO or even mixed in with SEO. For agencies, it will be a time to stop being specialised in one specific BU and becoming more and more full service to make the most out of any type of advertising budgets.

At ESV Digital we already understood this shift and that is why we evolved from a search specific agency to also being specialised in SEO, Social, Analytics & Strategy, so we can further accompany our clients towards successful growth.

If you are interested in hearing more, do not hesitate to get in contact with us and it will be a pleasure to see what we can achieve with you.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

In the last few days, Google has announced they have united the ad layouts for text ads on Google search results pages across devices. This means that there will now normally be 3 ads above the organic results but none to the side other than Google Shopping ads plus some knowledge graph ads.

For “highly commercial” searches, there will be a 4th ad shown above the organic results. There will also be 3 further ads shown below the organic results. These ads at the bottom are unlikely to get a lot of traffic, however.

In addition, the number of sitelinks will be reduced to 2 per ad but they will more often be extended (which is a sitelink title with 2 description lines).

The main advantage to advertisers is that the average rank metric will be more representative of rank across devices because all devices will show the same number of ad positions.

There are challenges presented here too, however, in that the total number of ad positions is being shrunk dramatically from 11 to 3 or 4 in effect. This ramps up competition for the auction – in a supply and demand sense – and so logic would dictate that CPCs will rise. However, we don’t know if there are other algorithmic changes that are taking place which may temper these rises.

The other factor is that a greater emphasis will be given to Shopping results in commercial searches because there’ll be so many fewer non-shopping ads.

As a result, we will have to keep a close eye on client accounts over the next few days and assess the impact. If you are responsible for running Google AdWords ads, you should also do the same.

As the fallout from this becomes clearer, we’ll blog more about this.

Google’s AdWords Customer Match lets advertisers upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. This feature has been available since September of last year; however, few have realised the untapped potential this tool provides. This AdWords enhancement comes from Google’s push to cater to advertiser first-party data in order to drive clicks through search ads rather than organic results.

First, the advertiser uploads an email list to their AdWords campaign and once the campaign is launched, Google matches the email addresses against those of signed-in users. The individual addresses are hashed and anonymized because Customer Match was designed around user privacy. This advertising method presents the advertiser with a unique opportunity to set bids and create ads specifically geared to audiences built from their in-house email lists. Additionally, Similar Audiences for Customer Match lists can be targeted on YouTube and Gmail.

Another product that has been available for a little while, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), allows users to bid on and serve ads tailored to custom audiences of previous visitors to their site when they search on Google. These remarketing lists are built with cookies, which users can delete or block, and aren’t suited for mobile, and so, advertisers can miss a proportion of site users. However, email addresses and user sign-ins are more reliable and can be tracked across devices, making AdWords Customer Match so valuable.

AdWords Similar Audiences already exist for retargeting lists on the Google Display Network. The audience lists built this way are based on user browsing patterns on sites in the Display Network as well as contextual comparisons to users in the advertiser’s traditional remarketing lists. This data is used to find new users with shared interests and characteristics. Now, those Similar Audiences lists can also be built based on the activity of CRM audiences.

To get started with AdWords Customer Match, advertisers perform the upload of their email lists to audiences within AdWords. There is no limit to the number of lists you can upload, however, you have to be careful when using it, as there are rules that prevent you being able to use this feature with impunity.

The core benefit of AdWords Customer Match is the enablement of utilizing an advertiser’s wealth of first-party data they have accumulated. You, as an advertiser, can make these lists as large as you want, and segment them in any way you want – the possibilities are endless. Since you have a suite of information for each email address (shipping address, name, website behaviour), you can peg patterns (or value) to each Customer Match audience that you construct which allows you to refine ad messaging and bidding.

Our platform (ESV Digital) supports Customer Match lists, along with other forms of remarketing audiences, so that we can scale up remarketing efforts and enhance granularity of structure. Interested in using your first-party data? Send us an email to