MSN has always delivered a fraction of traffic for our PPC advertiser clients, but often times that little slice of traffic is the highest converting PPC traffic we get. So I was interested in what MSN’s new Bing would do differently than the old Live.com or MSN.com did.
As I played on it yesterday one thing became very apparent very quickly with Bing. No PPC ads were showing, and the few ads I did get to show up were only showing up with one or two advertisers on the page. Even highly searched terms like “iPod accessories”, “Payday Loans”, “compact cars” or even “airplane tickets” didn’t show a single PPC ad.
As an advertiser on MSN Adcenter I am not pleased. We did some digging and got this information back from MSN:
- If the organic listings are notably more relevant than the paid listings, then no ads will show.
- Paid listings must meet a minimum CTR threshold of .08% to be considered relevant enough to show. This means fewer ads, but also less competition.
- If one organic listing is notably the most relevant of all listings (for example when searching for a specific company), then sometimes that organic listing will show as the “best match” with links below it to the most requested pages on the site.
Apparently Bing is so good at producing natural search results that no one selling airplane tickets by PPC on MSN need even bother to advertise. Even worse if your metrics say that it isn’t cost effective to be in the top positions of MSN – but really profitable to be in the third or fourth ad position…. Well you might just be out of luck on ever getting your ad to show. NOTE TO MSN Shareholders: THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE FROM A REVENUE PERSPECTIVE!
From a Natural Search perspective our clients have seen an almost immediate drop in traffic from MSN/Bing since it went live. Some have seen almost 40% fewer searches. I think the biggest reason for this is that Bing is only showing the first 5 natural search listings and the rest of the page is filled with the “most commonly related searches”. Natural results 6 to 15 are now seen on the second page which very few searchers ever look at.
Bing makes guesses for the searcher to deliver these related searches. It’s great for the grandfatherly set that had MSN on their computer when they bought it and use MSN to search for Google.com so they can search for something. However, the rest of the world is comprised of pretty savy searchers that know how to search with multiple keyword phrases to get what they want from a search engine.
All of the extra unrelated content to the search query just confuses the eye and isn’t easy to skim – which is what searchers do.
In other words Bing is great for MSN’s already older demographic but does nothing to actually increase market share from the rest of us.
The Best Quote I’ve seen about Bing in the last few days is from Ted Leonsis:
I have so much muscle memory around Google that I won’t change out my habits for Bing.
MSN had to do Google, better than Google to beat it. Unfortunately, they didn’t even make a better Live.com.