If you’re running Google Ads, you may have wondered if you should also be running ads on the Microsoft Network (MSN).
This is a great question, actually, but before we answer it, let’s provide some background.
For those of you in a hurry, here’s the Tl;dr: Fewer conversions, but you also spend a lot less money for exposure to a different audience.
The search ecosystem
The three big platforms for search advertising include Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. Niche or special purpose platforms include Amazon and social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Google controls 62.5% of all core search queries.
According to data from Bing, it controls 36.2% of the desktop search market — and that 80% of B2B decision-makers at work use it. (This could be due to integration with Microsoft Teams).
Yahoo, which is owned by Verizon, controls 11.4% of the search market.
DuckDuckGo (DDG) is the only Google competitor to gain organic search share in the first quarter of 2019. The use of DDG is growing because more people are concerned about privacy; the search engine doesn’t track you.
Google and Microsoft also have their own integrated ecosystems:
Google’s includes search and all associated Google properties and apps, the Chrome browser, Gmail, Office, etc.
Microsoft has Bing, the Edge browser, Outlook, Office 365, Skype, LI, and Teams (chat and meetings), Dynamics 365, etc.
Whichever browser you use (Edge, Chrome, Brave, etc.) you can specify which search engine to use. For example, you can use the Edge browser with the Google search engine or the Brave browser with DDG.
Bing, Yahoo, and DDG comprise the Microsoft advertising network (as well as other partner sites).
After months of testing, we’ve determined that advertising on the MSN has its pros and cons for smaller manufacturers.
Lower bids / less competition — Because fewer companies advertise on MSN than Google, and because fewer people use Bing, DDG, etc. bid costs and overall ad spend are significantly lower.
Google Ads import feature — If you’re already using Google Ads, it’s super easy to import your campaigns using MSN’s import tool.
Similar interface/features — MSN offers most, if not all, of the same features you find with Google, which cuts learning time considerably.
Fantastic customer support — We love, love, love the fact that someone from the company will return a phone call within a minute or two and that the reps actually know how to use the platform.
Integration with LinkedIn — Because Microsoft owns LinkedIn, the MSN allows you to target searchers based on their LinkedIn profiles. You can target by industry and job title.
Fewer clicks/conversions — Fewer people using Bing or DDG as their search engine of choice means far fewer conversions.
Wonky interface — While the MSN ads interface works similarly to Google’s, it can take some getting used to.
Not ideal for niche services — Due to the lower search traffic, it’s difficult to gain traction if you offer a niche service or you’re targeting a specific geographic or local area.
Given the pros and cons, we recommend doing a test run on the MSN for a few months and see how it goes. Even with the fewer conversions, the cost per conversion will most likely be much lower than what you pay using Google.