Everyone is well aware that Google Ads has long dominated the world of pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Over the years, there have been many challengers to the throne, but Google reigns supreme when it comes to advertising online. As early as 2020, Google’s advertising network generated a staggering $147 Billion in revenue with a market capitalization of $1.5 trillion and a seemingly unsurmountable 29% global market share.
Does this mean there are no viable options for generating paid traffic other than the Google Ad Network? Actually, no, it does not.
In fact, Bing ads – now called Microsoft Advertising – generated $10 Billion in revenue in 2021 and will be investing more in their advertising network moving forward. So, on the one hand, you have the dominant market player in Google and the up-and-coming challenger in Microsoft Ads. Which one do you choose? Better yet, what are the pros and cons of each network, and does it make sense to use one over the other or both?
Google Ads and Bing Ads
The approach of the Google Ad Network and Microsoft Advertising network is essentially the same. Both are pay-per-click advertising networks and have both text and visual ad displays. Both networks focus on driving targeted website traffic so publishers, advertisers, and everyday companies can increase their reach, generate more opportunities, and increase revenue and market share.
However, while they are similar in terms of their goals and advertising approaches, there are some essential differences between them. Understanding these differences involves defining each network on its own merits.
Google Advertising Network
There are essentially two portions to the Google Advertising Network. The first is the Google “Search Network,” where advertisers use text ads. Much like the name implies, these text ads appear anytime a user performs a search on Google’s search engine. These ads, therefore, appear on what is commonly referred to as the search engine results page – or “SERP” for short.
The second is the Google “Display Network.” These display ads include high-quality images and photos and are shown on websites and online forums that appeal to a specific audience, topic or demographic. So, while the Google Search Network advertisements appear on Google searches, the Google Display Network shows ads once you’re on a website or forum. Ultimately, both networks rely on keywords and keyword-rich descriptions to reach their audience.
- Google Search Network: Text-based advertising that appears in SERPs.
- Google Display Network: Image advertisements on websites, online forums, and online publications.
Types of Google Ads
Within these two Google network types, there are multiple different types of advertisements. The most obvious include the text ads that appear in searches and display ads that appear on websites. Text ads do not have images, while display ads provide minimal text while emphasizing visuals. Another type includes responsive ads. These ads allow advertisers to provide multiple different headlines and ad descriptions, which Google tests out to find the optimal combination.
Dynamic Search Ads are another type where advertisers only need to provide descriptions of their product and service. At the same time, Google writes up the headline and links to the corresponding landing page. The rest of the ad platform includes call-only ads, lead form extension ads, and mobile-optimized targeting ads like geofencing ads and shopping ads.
- Text Ads: Appear in SERPs and are only text.
- Display Ads: Visually appealing ads on like-minded or topic-specific websites.
- Dynamic Search Ads: Advertisers only need to provide keyword-rich descriptions, and Google does the rest.
- Responsive Ads: These ads automatically adjust to the available ad real-estate or ad space.
- Call-Only Ads: Includes a business phone number that users can click on directly.
- Lead Form Extensions: Mobile-optimized ads where users fill out a direct form. This type of ad was designed to do away with directing users to mobile landing pages where conversion was extremely difficult.
- Geo-Fencing: Mobile-optimized ads only appear on mobile phones in a specific geographical location.
- Shopping Ads: Google identifies a user’s description of a product and matches it to your product offering.
Microsoft Advertising Network
Like Google, Microsoft Advertising has text ads that appear in its SERPs on the Bing, Yahoo, and AOL search engines. However, unlike Google ads, Bing highlights display URLs with bold font while also allowing specific ad keywords in the ad description to be bolded. Microsoft Advertising lets users modify the fonts on their keyword-rich titles and URLs.
The network also has its display ads which can be delivered to audiences among the three aforementioned search engines, in addition to properties owned by Microsoft, including Microsoft Edge, Windows, Xbox, Outlook, and MSN.
Microsoft calls these display ads their “Audience Ads.” The network also has its own version of shopping ads and responsive ads.
- Text and Expanded Text Ads: Appear on SERPs within the Bing, Yahoo, and AOL search engines. Advertisers can use bold keywords in titles and URLs.
- Display Ads: Referred to by Microsoft as “Audience Ads,”; these are visually stunning ads that appear on websites, blogs, and multiple properties owned by Microsoft.
- Shopping Ads / Product Ads: Like Google, these ads appear on SERPs when users type product descriptions into Bing, Yahoo, or AOL search engines.
- Dynamic Search Ads: Like Google, Microsoft generates the title and URL after advertisers provide descriptions.
- Responsive Search Ads: Like Google’s responsive ads, these ads adjust to the available ad space. They can appear small in one instance and more prominent in the next.
Tale of the Tape
While it seems both networks mimic one another, there are some key differences between them. Google has been at this for so long now that they seem to be moving more toward a direct-contact-to-advertiser solution by being the first to introduce call-only, geofencing, and lead form extensions. These solutions bypass landing pages altogether by putting users directly in contact with companies. So, Google is definitely the trendsetter, but what about reach and costs.
At this point, Google dominates in desktop search engine market share with 85.42% compared to Bing’s 8.32% and Yahoo’s 2.47%. This dominance is also reflected in the revenue both networks generate. Therefore, Google has a larger market share, and advertising with Google means you’re reaching a much larger audience. However, it also means it’s more expensive to advertise with Google.
There are more advertisers on Google and more competition for keywords and keyword phrases. That higher competition drives up the costs for these keywords. So, while Google reaches a broader audience, Microsoft is the less expensive advertising option.
There is no hard and fast rule as to whether one is better than the other. Ultimately, it comes down to your existing marketing budget, your target audience, the type of advertising solution you want to use, and whether one network better serves or reaches your audience over the other.
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