The Microsoft Advertising Guide – Advertise Successfully on Bing

15 min

Advertising on Bing is often underestimated – but Microsoft is in no way inferior to its competitor Google with its advertising offer! For certain target groups, it is even more worthwhile to advertise on Bing than on the competition. Here you will learn how to set up and structure a Microsoft advertising account and how to optimize Microsoft Ads!

Microsoft Advertising – What is it?
Historical development of the advertising network
Why Bing Ads are no longer called Bing Ads
How does Microsoft Advertising work?
How to create your account
Account structure
What tools does Microsoft Advertising offer?
Targeting options
Advantages of Microsoft Advertising
Who is Microsoft Advertising interesting for? When is it worthwhile?
The most important elements in comparison – Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

Microsoft Advertising – What is it?

The image shows the representation of the original Bing Ads logo and the new Microsoft Advertising logo.
The old and the new logo

Similar to the Ads function of the competitor Google, Microsoft also offers its customers the possibility to place search engine advertisements, formerly called Bing Ads, today called Microsoft Advertising. Ads, short for advertising, stands for paid adverts in the form of pay-per-click ads in the Microsoft Search Network. The ads are displayed across all partners of the network, including Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and of course Bing itself. As part of a targeted marketing campaign, they support the online marketing strategy of companies, regardless of their economic size. In addition, the ads can be customized using targeting, making them a useful advertising tool for addressing specific search engine users.

Historical development of the advertising network

Timeline of the history of the Microsoft advertising network:
- In 2006, Microsoft started developing the MSN adCenter and agreed with Yahoo to cooperate for one year
- 2007 the cooperation ends and Microsoft markets the ad business alone
- 2010 saw a renewed partnership with Yahoo
- 2012 MSN adCenter is renamed to Bing Ads
- 2019 Bing Ads is renamed to Microsoft Advertising
Timeline of the history of the Microsoft advertising network

Compared to Google, Microsoft is a real latecomer with its advertising network. It wasn’t until 2006 that the company launched its own PPC model through a third-party vendor (Overture, later acquired by Yahoo!) and displayed ads on its MSN search engine. However, the collaboration with Overture meant that at the beginning of Microsoft’s SEA career, only Yahoo! advertisers’ ads were displayed on MSN.

However, the company recognized relatively quickly the wasted revenue potential and therefore developed the MSN adCenter. As a result, the ads of both Yahoo! and MSN adCenter customers were displayed in the search results. As a consequence, the ads reached a broader spectrum of search engine users. However, this cooperation agreement ended after just one year. For this reason, Microsoft marketed the advertising program on its own for the time being beginning in 2007. During this time, the AdCenter and the pubCenter were created, which were connected via the central keyword “Microsoft Advertising”. As you can see, the rebranding is not a pure reinvention of the name, but rather a “back to the roots”.

In 2010, a new cooperation with Yahoo was launched, the so-called Search Alliance. This meant that Bing Ads were displayed in both the Microsoft and Yahoo search networks. The ads were still billed via click prices.

After the Search Alliance was then renamed Yahoo! Bing Network in 2012, the Microsoft AdCenter was also renamed Bing Ads. This was then changed again in 2019. Since then, Bing Ads has officially been called Microsoft Advertising again. With the name change, two new features were also added:

Why Bing Ads are no longer called Bing Ads

Similar to the rebranding of Google AdWords to Google Ads, Microsoft has also made a name change. Bing Ads is now called Microsoft Advertising. There are several reasons for this:

Reach, product diversity, nostalgia. Sponsored Products and the Microsoft Audience Network are the key reasons for rebranding
Reasons for the rebranding
  1. Reach: Microsoft is a brand that has been established for years and is also the main brand
  2. Product diversity: Microsoft wants to emphasize that there are more products than just the search engine Bing and does not want to limit its name to just search queries anymore
  3. Nostalgia: Originally, the advertising platform was called Microsoft AdCenter.
  4. Sponsored Products: Microsoft is introducing shopping campaigns similar to Google
  5. Microsoft Audience Network: Microsoft introduces artificial intelligence in 2018 that performs comprehensive analytics on audience data and profiles

How does Microsoft Advertising work?

Just like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising gives you the choice between different ad or campaign types. These come in two different varieties: search ads and content ads. The main difference between the two is the platform or partner site on which they are displayed. But there are other differences as well:

– Displayed exclusively in Bing and Yahoo SERPs.
– Bids on keywords
– Targeted by user’s search query
– Ads are also displayed on partner sites in Microsoft Audience Network
– Bids on keywords, site and network placements
– Targeting on the content that the search engine user opens
– No choice of advertising platform

Similar to its Google Ads counterpart, ads here are only paid for if they are actively clicked on by the user. This is the so-called “pay-per-click” (PPC) system. The click prices here are determined by competition, the quality of the keywords and the quality of the ad itself, as well as the CTR. However, the Bing account itself and the creation of the ads is free of charge.

The ranking within the search results is determined by various factors. These include:

Advertising on Bing – How to create your account

To be able to advertise on Microsoft Advertising, you need to follow three steps:

  1. Create the account
  2. Import or create a campaign
  3. Set up billing options

When creating your account, you have two different options: You use an existing email address or you create a new email address.

Using an existing email address

  1. First, open the Microsoft Advertising registration page. Then you enter your e-mail address here. If you already use it for other Microsoft products (e.g. Skype or Xbox Live), you can simply sign up. If it is not in use yet, you can simply create a new account with it via “No account?” → “Create” → “Next”. In the following window, you have to confirm again that you want to create a new account.
  2. After you have entered your password, click on “Next” again.
  3. Now fill in the fields with your first and last name.
  4. You have now received verification details from Microsoft via email. Enter this code into the appropriate field when prompted.
  5. Fill in all fields correctly. Enter your company name and a business phone number. Additionally, you must fill in the following fields:
    • Location: This tells you what language options are available for your ads.
    • Currency: This determines how your clicks will be billed. (ATTENTION: This cannot be changed after account creation!)
    • Time Zone: This does not affect billing, only when your ads go live. So it’s best to use your local time zone.
    • Primary Usage: This depends on whether you want to use the account to advertise for a business or on behalf of an ad agency.
  6. Next, read the terms of use and confirm them. Then click on “Create account”.
  7. After that, your account is created, and you can import campaigns from Google Ads, create new ones or postpone the whole thing until later. You can learn how to do that in the section “What tools does Microsoft Advertising offer?”.
  8. To finish everything, all you need to do now is entering your billing and payment information.

Creating a new e-mail address

If you don’t have an e-mail address yet, only the first step will change. Points 2 – 8 remain unchanged. Again, you start on the Microsoft Advertising registration page, but click directly on “No account?” → “Create.” In the following window, you will see the option “New email address”. Click on it. Then enter an address here to create an Outlook account. Then continue with step 2 as above.

Account structure of your Bing Ads

You can then manage your campaigns either online or via the editor tool. The account structure in which you create your ads is similar to that of Google Ads. The account is therefore structured as follows:

Structure of the Microsoft Advertising account:
The account contains campaigns, which are the overarching level for all ad groups. The ad groups in turn contain important keywords and the appropriate ad texts.
Structure of the Microsoft Advertising account

Each campaign pursues its own campaign goals. Therefore, campaigns are often structured according to individual categories of products or services. The campaign has a common budget, a common geographic focus and other common settings and properties. It contains various ad groups that serve to achieve the goal. Through ad texts tailored to the user, which contain the relevant keywords, you then increase the click-through rate of your ads and can thus also increase the page views.

Targeting options

Just like its competitor Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising offers the option to display ads to specific target groups. Thus, Microsoft Advertising fully exploits the potential of the ad through geographic, time-based as well as sociodemographic targeting. The criteria that are relevant for perfectly addressing a customer’s target group can be completely different. The following options are therefore available:

Optimize Microsoft Ads – this is how!

If your campaign is active and you notice that things are not quite going as you would like, you have various options for improving its performance. The whole thing is called campaign optimization and concerns different areas.

Keyword optimization

Only if the search query exactly matches the keywords of your ad, it will be displayed to the user. Therefore, a detailed keyword research is important. Based on this keyword list, you can decide which search terms are relevant for you and your target group. The following factors can be included in your keyword analysis:

Once you have considered all aspects and created a collection of relevant keywords, you are ready to optimize your ads with the new insights.

Ad optimization

The ad text is the real crux with which you can turn users into interested parties or even buyers. It is therefore all the more important that it is exactly suitable for your target group. This is why you should clearly focus on your USPs, but don’t promise too much! An ad text raises a certain expectation in the user – this should not be disappointed. Here are some tips on how to optimize your ad copy:

Optimize target group targeting

How do you address your target group correctly? This is what target group targeting is all about. Demographic data is collected and behavioral patterns are considered. Important aspects that you should therefore look at are:

You should also take a close look at the circumstances of the corresponding target market in order to perfect your ads.

What tools does Microsoft Advertising offer?

Microsoft offers two desktop tools that simplify the management of campaigns:

In addition, with the Google Import tool, Microsoft Advertising offers the possibility of copying already existing campaigns from Google Ads without much additional effort. This can be done online as well as via the editor tool.

The import is done through 5 simple steps:

  1. When creating the Microsoft Advertising account, you will be asked if you want to import existing campaigns from Google.
  2. Then you log in with your Google account and select the account campaigns to be imported.
  3. It is possible to set a schedule via “Schedule import processes”, where you can determine whether data should be imported automatically in a certain period (daily, weekly, monthly).
  4. You will receive a summary of all campaign information after the first download is complete. Here you can see which elements have been skipped or changed, or where special attention needs to be paid.
  5. Finally, you need to enter your budget and billing information in your Microsoft Advertising account. Now you can start placing your ads.

Advantages of Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertising creates a special reason for being in your online marketing strategy through various advantages.

Since Bing is often neglected in search engine marketing, there is less competition, yet the potential of a Microsoft Ad is very high. Higher rankings can often be achieved much more cost-effectively with less competition. So you can use your advertising budget better and more efficiently.

In addition, Bing has a fairly fixed target demographic. Approximately 40% of the search engine’s users are typically between 35 and 54 years old, married, and tend to have a higher household income. This in turn ensures that your ads can be displayed more accurately and with higher quality. In addition, a good third of Bing users have a university degree. On the other hand, Google’s user group often includes much younger users.

Schematic representation of the average Microsoft search engine user. This person meets the following criteria:
- male or female
- between 35 and 54 years old
- married
- with a university degree
- tends to have a higher salary
Illustration of the average Microsoft search engine user.

In addition, the company’s own Windows operating system and Bing are now deeply interconnected. If a user makes a search query on a Windows computer without first explicitly going to Google Search, all searches are sent to Bing. This is especially interesting in the corporate world, since many company computers run on a Microsoft operating system.

Last but not least, both Google and Microsoft work with partner sites to display the ads. However, while Google only allows you to view the performance between Google Search and the entire partner network, Microsoft Advertising gives advertisers the opportunity to gain detailed insights into the individual websites. You can therefore make various settings for evaluation:

For whom is Microsoft Advertising interesting? When is it worthwhile?

Basically, Microsoft Advertising offers all companies that want to add another tool to their advertising portfolio and online marketing strategy a chance to increase their reach and traffic. In addition, it increases the targeting of potential new customers (with purchasing power) who may not be acquired via Google Ads.

Microsoft Advertising has a particular appeal for companies operating internationally, as Bing’s market share is much larger outside Germany. Since Windows is often the standard operating system on company PCs, Bing is usually the default search engine there. For this reason, Microsoft ads are displayed here particularly frequently and reach the more suitable target group more often, especially in B2B.

Search engine advertising via Bing is also interesting for small companies, as it is more cost-effective than Google Ads and the budget can be controlled specifically.

Tips for Bing advertising

Even though Bing Ads or Microsoft Advertising can be created relatively quickly by importing from Google Ads, you should not always use this simple method. It may be that the user behavior of your target group is completely different on Bing than on Google. For this reason, you should make adjustments here. In addition, the competition is significantly lower. Therefore, you should tailor your budgets to Bing in order to achieve the best possible results.

Another important point, with which you can fully exploit advertising on Bing, are the shopping ads of the search engine. In this way, you can also address your target audience with your products.

The most important elements in comparison – Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

In the following, the core elements of the respective advertising programs will be summarized and compared:

CPCsRelatively low due to lower competitionHigh competition leads to high CPCs
AVARAGE POSITIONEasier/better positioning due to lower competitionHighly competitive positioning due to high competition (Google abolished this on Sept. 30, 2019)
CONVERSION RATEHigh conversion rate due to high visitor qualityConversion rate high if Google Ads account is well optimized
CLICK-THROUGH-RATEHigher CTRs can be achieved due to more specific target groupBroader target group and partly more unspecific search queries make the CTR decrease
REACHLower reach, but with more specific search queriesHigher reach due to increased search queries
KOSTSLess competition results in lower CPCs and thus reduced overall costsComparatively expensive, but also offers higher performance


If you really want to take full advantage of your advertising opportunities, you should include Microsoft Advertising in your advertising portfolio. The fact is, you’ll only get the full potential out of your business if you also use all the search networks to intercept search engine users there. The additional effort you have through Microsoft Advertising is small in comparison, because you can import the campaigns from Google Ads. This is a big advantage and saves you a lot of time and setup costs. Particularly in the business customer sector, advertisements in the Microsoft network also offer the great advantage that Microsoft PCs are frequently used in companies. Thus, Bing advertising in the B2B area directly reaches the decision-makers in the individual companies. Microsoft Advertising is therefore highly recommended in the field of search engine marketing.


Why was Bing Ads renamed Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft has been displaying search results on Bing for a long time now. Yahoo are also served by Microsoft. This is the reason for the rebranding. It is also intended to show that the globally known Microsoft brand unites all platforms in one. Microsoft is thus in the foreground as a network partner.

What is the difference between Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) and Google Ads?

The most striking difference lies in the market shares of the two search engines. Google is the number one search engine in this country. However, Microsoft’s advertising network should not be underestimated. This consists of Bing, Yahoo and MSN. In addition, Microsoft’s target group is more specific, as the Bing search engine is often pre-installed on Windows PCs and is therefore frequently the default search engine at companies, etc.

What are the advantages of Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads)?

The low market share of Bing, which is often seen as a weakness, is also an advantage for many advertisers. Due to the low competition, click prices are often much lower than with Google Ads. Additionally, the low competition also makes it easier to get better positioning/rankings. Furthermore, Microsoft Advertising is much more specific when it comes to targeting.

What tools does Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bind Ads) offer?

Microsoft offers two desktop tools that simplify managing a campaign: the Editor and Microsoft Advertising Intelligence.

How much does an ad cost in Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads)?

The ad itself is free of charge, similar to Google. You are then billed for the clicks on the corresponding ad. The so-called CPC model is based on a bid that you place for a certain keyword. Based on this, the costs of a click are calculated. These are dynamic and can change continuously.


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