Has the Bing Advertising campaign been worth it?

by Peter Young on August 10, 2010 · 15 comments

I was watching television over the course of the weekend and noticed the seemingly ongoing Bing adverts.

These were part of a multi-million pound advertising campaign by Bing – and further to those months of testing I revisited the market share data to see whether this has been effective.

These were the stats from March this year (from Hitwise/Experian data)

Rewind back five months and Bing were very much the third in line, sitting behind both Google and Yahoo, with just under 3% of the UK search marketing spend, estimated according to the IAB (as of March this year) to be worth around £2.15 Billion pounds (£2,000,000,000).

Now lets fas forward this to the end of July and take the latest data published by Experien which highlighted a significantly different picture, and one which would which sees, Bing now as the second largest search engine in the UK, however whether this is due to the continuing decline of Yahoo as a search player or the effect of the promotion Bing has undertaken, is open to debate.

I say significant but its not immediately apparent from the images above – however the following were interesting

  1. Bing is now the second largest search engine in the UK – ahead of Yahoo (thats not really surprising) but still way behind Google
  2. Bing has seen an increase of 0.16% market share – you may say thats not much but consider the size of the market
  3. Yahoo has seen a drop of 2.91% with Google seeing a further 1.46% increase in market share
  4. That would thus suggest any increase in market share has been at the expense of Yahoo rather than Google – which ultimately is going to hit revenues again given the Yahoo/Bing alliance.

This may not sound like much until we factor in the potential return of these increases. The figures released by the IAB were for the UK paid search spend of around £2.15 billion, which means every percent means around £20 million revenue to the search engines, so every percent does count have a significant impact in these instances as the table below highlights.

It would seem therefore that the amazing budget allocated for the Bing advertising campaign has not had a hugely significant impact – and would only really break even if they took the entire Yahoo budget into account. That said, it has continued to make gains into the search engine market share over the last year. My personal feelings is that I can’t help thinking Bing may be a little disappointed not to have more of an indent into the search marketing sector at this stage, particularly given the level of awareness.

One has to take into account the 100 odd million advertising budget deployed at the start of the campaign (albeit globally) and when you look at just an incremental return of just over £3 million pounds, one would suggest questions are going to be asked sooner or later.

Whether or not they can compete with the likes of Google is open to debate. When asked whether Bing were a viable alternative to Google, our readers suggested no.

Google+ Comments

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Alderson August 11, 2010 at 9:11 am

I’ve seen these adverts over the course of the last couple of months, and each time they are on I change channel or mute the TV because they are very very annoying! Especially since (and using the example video you used in your post) the answers the “Bing” person give aren’t anywhere close to what was asked! That’s not relevant! (Maybe it’s just me because I work in SEO that gets annoyed by that.)

Bing should just keep it simple and advertise its features e.g. visual search which may interest the regular searcher.

steveplunkett August 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I would say YES!! @bing is now briging income to MSFT.. it’s still new as far as product life cycles go.. but they are doing a good job.

Pankaj Gupta August 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Bing is trying to come on the top but it will take more time for them. They have to try something unique.

Bharati Ahuja August 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Whether or not Bing will compete and get a substantial market share will depend on many factors. But, with the knid of focused and qualitative effort that Bing is putting in to emerge a winner in the search industry is quite noteworthy.

Tapping the initial market is the most challenging task for any company. Especially when the competition is such a giant like Google.

Though the initial amount spent may be very huge the very fact that they can break even also is a sign of success in my opinion.Atleast that is a positive start.

John Callaghan August 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Bing the decision engine? Please, who’s going to be sold by the idea of a search engine that makes decisions for you?
The majority of search is informational or navigational. Maybe Bing should sell their search technology in respect to a) how it’s used and b) as mentioned by Dan, its features.

Cedric Chambaz - MSFT August 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your article. It provides a great insight on the challenges, and the success we have had so far. A couple comments:

- First the marketing budget that you relayed, i.e. $100m, was a rumour that made its way across the industry late last year, but is not the actual figure, which was way less…

- Second, to be thorough in your ROI approach, should you not compare global investments to global revenue? In that sense, the fact that the US where Bing launched immediately out of beta with marketing support has constantly grown its share, to close to 10% these days demonstrate the elasticity between advertising investment and query share. To that extend the investment was worth it.

- From a pure branding perspective too. Bearing in mind that bing, as a brand, was created in June 2009, and was not promoted before March this year to synch with UK-specific feature releases and gains in local relevancy, our awareness has rapidly grown in response to the campaign. It has rapidly grown to over 50% exceeding our expectations and there has been a great response in terms of how people now talking about bing. Our UK user base and usage per user have both grown in parallel of this positive response, which has enabled the query share progression. Advertising and peer recommendation drove new eyeballs; the different search experience – more visual, more engaging, helping people make faster, more informed decisions – drove the stickiness.

- The response from advertisers has also been very positive. This consumer momentum, combined to Microsoft engagement in working with high profile partners to offer a real choice in the industry (think Yahoo!, but also Facebook or Twitter announcements).

This has resulted in the growth of our ad spend share which outpaced our growth in query share. The two are obviously correlated, but not necessarily synonym as you certainly know.

Overall we are happy with the progress we have made so far: we have established a brand in just a few months and have a product that meets consumer needs, driving loyalty and iterative usage. Of course, we are clear that we are only at the early stages of the journey, and that it is not a short and easy one.

We are nevertheless committed to succeed in search, and will continue to invest accordingly to further enrich our experience, to acquire new users, and to continue provide brands with an engaged audience who is converting because they are finding the right answer, be it in the organic or paid for results.

We are clearly a challenger in the search space, but our offering is becoming more and more compelling.

Peter Young August 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for getting back to us on the post and for your feedback above.

As regards your points above, I completely agree with your points regarding the comparison of global revenue against global expenditure – something I tried to bear in mind whilst writing the article. The US I do agree has seen far more significant gains in market share than here in the UK – and I can’t help thinking the UK traction will start – however my point as regards existing canabilisation of Yahoo market share still stands true here.

The brand issue, is nearly always one that is very difficult to put a firm finger on – and I will wholeheartedly agree it has done the job in that respect – particularly with reference to the decision engine.

Finally, I do honestly on a personal level with Bing all the best with this. We need a viable competitor in the marketplace – one that is able to deal with Google – and I have no doubts the Search Alliance will only serve to help here – however I think only time will tell how far this goes.

Andy @ FirstFound August 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I’d say no. The adverts are terrible, and every non-SEO I’ve spoken to about it has hated them, and Bing.

In fact, there’s a great article out there called “Laura Wilde Bings and Decides” (I won’t link out from here), which has someone who knows nothing about search comparing Bing with Google.

Google wins. Convincingly.

Silvan August 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

Remember that Netscape was a hard to beat browser in the beginning of the internet era. It has been an IE-only market for a long time. Now Firefox is gaining share. The market is always changing.

But if Microsoft really wants this, they will make it happen.

elmerante1 August 19, 2010 at 7:28 am

I strongly believe that Bing will be the next candidate to be the best search engine. There are lots of improvement that microsoft created to be more attracted to the new and old internet user.

Dan Scoggins September 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I do not believe Bing will be much of contender in the next couple of years, mostly because of MSFT mentality and business model. The world turns on Windows according to MSFT and they respond to real market needs accordingly. Google has dominated because they have discovered the magic of giving the market what it wants, even products in anticipation of the market desires. Of course, how long they can keep the “magic” no one really knows.

MSFT will have to reshape their business philosophy to be customer/market focused.

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