The sunset of Bing Product Ads is upon us and CommerceHub had a front row seat. There’s always a learning curve when it comes to program changes as the channel is working through the kinks and companies are developing their best practices for the new offering. In Q4 of 2015 CommerceHub’s platform handled over a million in ad spend on Bing Ads, and the physical transition to the new Bing campaign structure was made easy with the use of CommerceHub DemandStream. After we made the transition, our performance marketing team gained some key learnings that we think are imperative to share with you as you create Bing campaigns over the coming months.
Transitioning to Bing Shopping Campaigns Early Was Worth It
In early Q3 of 2015, Bing Ads announced that they would be introducing Bing Shopping Campaigns, a replacement offering to their legacy Product Ads program. As we know, Bing typically follows Google’s lead when developing their product offerings. Google made the exact same transition to Google Shopping Campaigns about a year prior. Bing indicated that both the legacy and updated product ad programs were going to be supported for several months to allow companies to make the transition in March 2016.
Based on the results we saw from the migration of Google product listing ad campaigns to Google Shopping Campaigns, CommerceHub started to transition clients as soon as we were able to do so.
What we found: It was important to make the switch as soon as possible. When comparing the 8 weeks prior to the switch to the 8 weeks post-transition, for a large well-known brand manufacturer, we saw a 550% lift in impressions, a 334% lift in clicks and in turn, a 177% lift in demand generated through Bing’s product listing ad platform.
This kind of result was not unique to this particular client either. Our assumption is that Bing was favoring Bing Shopping Campaigns over the legacy Product Ad campaigns in order to provide an incentive for advertisers to migrate to the new Bing Shopping Campaigns. This is a valuable lesson – Bing supported the legacy and new campaign type for 7 months prior to the forced transition.
Apply Mobile Bid Modifiers in Advance
With the transition to Bing Shopping Campaigns, Bing also began to serve product ads to mobile devices. Like Google, Bing Shopping Campaigns are automatically opted-in to show ads on mobile devices whenever a new campaign is created. Similar to mobile for text ads, you can set the mobile bid adjustment from -100% to +300%.
What we found: Bing is still working to ramp up mobile traffic for product ads. At this point we are still seeing exceptionally light mobile traffic on Bing Shopping Campaigns. Our data says that mobile devices on Bing Shopping Campaigns generate less than 1% of demand of total Bing Shopping revenue on less than 1.5% of ad spend. What’s important is although mobile traffic is minimal, Bing is aware of the traffic gap and is working to address it. It is prudent to set mobile bid modifiers now in preparation for additional mobile device traffic over time.
Bing Ads is Slow to Respond to Bid Changes, Despite the New Campaign Format
During Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Monday we learned some valuable lessons on how quickly Bing responds to max CPC changes at the product group level. Where typically our tactics on Google are to adjust bids in real time, on Bing that won’t work. Google’s recognition and response to max CPC changes is almost instantaneous, and unfortunately the same cannot be said for Bing.
What we found: With Bing it took many hours to half a day for max CPC bid changes to be recognized and once recognized, we saw the average CPC rise fairly significantly. On Bing, the gap between the max CPC bid and the average CPC was 25% or less. This was a pattern witnessed across multiple verticals within the retail space, which leads us to believe it was not necessarily an overly competitive auction. Bing was just slow. With this, we have found for the future that when a big event whether that be a site sale, recognized shopping holiday, or a price matching event, start ramping up bids slowly a day or two prior to the event to avoid damaging return. Also, when pulling back on bids near the end of the event, start looking to pull back as soon as a day to half a day prior to the event ending.
Bottom line: there is a ‘lag time’ on Bing that does not exist on Google – which means day-to-day optimization tactics need to differ between the two channels.
Don’t Pause Your Bing Shopping Campaigns in a Budget Crunch
Although the goal is always to extend monthly budget throughout the month and spend efficiently with the allocated budget, sometimes budget runs out earlier. When this happens, often the initial reaction is to either look to obtain additional budget, pause campaigns or even the entire channel.
What we found: On Bing, when you pause campaigns for 7 days or longer, it can take up to 36 hours for product ads to come back online. Our sources at Bing have confirmed that they are prioritizing a fix that will shorten this time frame, but as of April 2016, this is still the expected behavior after an extended pause.
What to do instead? Lower your CPCs across the account or campaigns you were looking to pause to $0.01. Although you still may spend a minimal amount, it will enable you to ramp back up the account more quickly when additional budget is available.
We’re excited about the progress and prospect that the new Bing Ads Shopping Campaigns have to offer but we have to say, the journey to get here wasn’t quite easy. We are definitely seeing movement in the right direction with this channel but we are reliant on Bing Ads to create further innovations that help our clients scale. The introduction of Bing Ads Editor supporting Bing Shopping Campaigns will be important in adjusting campaign settings and adding negative keywords at scale. Our contacts at Bing Ads have been open to feedback on their product to address the challenges we’ve identified. We can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer for the growth of this channel. If you have additional questions on Bing Shopping Campaigns, reach out to our PPC experts.