The Latest On Bing

Although industry reports are claiming great gains in market share for Bing, many paid search advertisers are not seeing these gains reflected in their impressions, clicks and conversions. After analyzing performance data collectively across our agency-managed accounts active in Microsoft advertising, we found that clicks are actually lower now than two weeks prior to the launch of Bing. While week over week volume shows a slight improvement since the June 3 launch of Bing, the volume is still subpar as compared to the previous low-volume holiday week.

While the trends we see across our client list differ from industry reports that are based on actual search queries, we feel there are several possible factors playing a role in these trends:

1. Three big vertical areas for Bing are Health, Travel and Local. Microsoft specifically targeted these areas and has even incorporated special tools like Farecast, which helps predict the best day to find the lowest price airfare. These verticals are not in line with the bulk of our client base. So in theory, we may just not be seeing the lift.



2. The novelty of something new means we try it and return to our Google habit.

3. There are glitches. Several clients continue to have selective ads not show, which we immediately brought to Microsoft's attention. One response we received stated, "Upon review... we believe that the new system checks used to improve relevance may be inaccurate in this case." A more recent response received states, "My initial guess is that it has to do with relevancy on the backend and the updates that were put in place when Bing was released. We have seen declines in impressions and clicks across several of our clients." When it comes to paid search, we can only measure when our ad serves, not when it does not.

"We have seen declines in impressions and clicks across several of our clients"??? Has Microsoft forgotten that paid search is what makes a search engine profitable? It is this revenue stream that funds every Googler's paycheck. I would think this would create a huge concern for Microsoft, and that there would have to be immediate fixes that could rectify these ad serving issues. (This is where I leverage my regular Search Insider column to hopefully create some urgency.)

On a positive note, I do like Bing. My favorite thing is the scenic, rotating image on the home page, which has resulted in me making it my own default home page. I often check out this image of the day before checking email, getting on Facebook or playing "Mafia Wars." More important, the results are good; however, to truly gain market share, I think it needs to be more revolutionary. It is an improvement on Microsoft Search, but it isn't earth-shattering.

If anyone from Microsoft is interested, I am rooting for you, but that doesn't mean I am not rooting for your rivals, too. My loyalty is to my clients -- and gains for you mean gains for them.

4 comments about "The Latest On Bing".
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  1. David Gould from, June 26, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.

    I have given Bing numerous opportunities to see what Microsoft's latest effort has to offer. I am still looking for the "reason" online viewers should switch their search from Google... Maybe the intuitiveness of Bing's decision engine is set for a different client.
    My experience with reporting a spam PPC link to Bing support yielded no response to my request... But did generate a "how did we do survey" tagged as being from an independent survey agency.
    Clever cross over marketing with "The Philanthropist"... Not as impressed by over load commercials.

    To those at Microsoft (Bing), people expect more from you. Take that as a compliment.


  2. Marc Engelsman from Digital Brand Expressions, June 26, 2009 at 1:51 p.m.

    MSN was always a distant third in terms of paid search budget share for our clients because of low performance BEFORE Bing. The fact that we're seeing even more issues like above AFTER Bing is disconcerting. We're continuing to monitor and hoping for improvements before changing decisions on this so-called decision engine.

  3. Stuart Long, June 26, 2009 at 2:43 p.m.

    Name one launch of a new online technology that didn't have a few bugs, anyone? People have good reason to expect a lot from Microsoft. Although converting curiosity into cash has never been their greatest strength the decision engine approach shows they are getting a grip on it. To the average user Bing should deliver great results. From an advertisers perspective there is still quite a way to go. This is a very early stage in what should be a long contest. So far, Bing is performing better than I had expected.

  4. Robert Kahns from MarineMax, June 26, 2009 at 3:26 p.m.

    "Has Microsoft forgotten that paid search is what makes a search engine profitable?"
    I don't think so, as paid search does not necessarily make a search engine relevant. A little company called Google make the answers to your search priority #1 before introducing paid search to make it profitable. I think Bing may be doing the same thing. If Microsoft wants to "win" (or at least compete) in the search game, then market share must improve before profitability becomes a concern.

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