How to manage paid search for Bing-Yahoo vs. Google
The "wait and see" approach regarding the Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance has passed. Now, marketers can evaluate how this alliance has changed the way brands manage their paid search programs on the various engines.
Marketers need to keep an eye on the combined effects of changes in cost per clicks (CPCs) and click-through rates. We've seen both CPCs and click-through rates meet in the middle — better than Yahoo's pre-merger levels, but not as strong as Bing's. However, CPCs are still lower on average than on Google, so marketers should continue investing in creative and landing page testing to drive click-through and conversion rates. Relatively minor improvements can lead to positive exponential results in terms of ROI.
Advertisers should also continue to focus on some of the areas that make Bing-Yahoo different from Google, such as partner network management. Bing allows keywords to be created and bid on separately for their partner network, so marketers can potentially squeeze out better performance across both Bing.com and its partners.
The two platforms also handle negative keywords differently. Creating a direct "clone" of a Google account still requires some tweaking. In Google AdWords, marketers can create negative phrases or exact match keywords and apply them at either the campaign or group level. Microsoft adCenter allows for creating a campaign, group or keyword-level negatives, but you can't use different match types. Advertisers need to pay close attention to their campaign structure to ensure that there aren't negatives blocking too many clicks in some areas and not enough in others.
One area where things are becoming similar is trademark policy rules on keywords. With Bing-Yahoo now opening up its rules on allowing advertisers to bid on competitor keywords, it'll be interesting to see if there's an opportunity to "get ahead." The flip side is that advertisers may wind up paying more for their own brand terms. If you haven't already planned ahead, make sure you're watching carefully.
Until Bing-Yahoo gains more market share, there's only so much investment in time that will pay off. Even if marketers gain efficiency, volume limitations remain. Yahoo and Bing are, however, coming up with new features, seemingly intent on doing what they can to represent a greater share of the market. This means that it's still worthwhile for marketers to find ways to increase performance in the Search Alliance.