January saw the announcement of Bing Ads exclusively taking over management for Yahoo and AOL search ads starting in March.
Oath had been renamed Verizon Media and Yahoo Gemini had switched to the name “Oath Ad Manager” only recently but Verizon (who agreed to the acquisition of Yahoo Inc. in 2016) are clearly trying to consolidate and stabilize the decade-long crumbling of the Yahoo empire. Regardless of the ultimate life expectancy of much of the Yahoo portfolio, the status quo was always on borrowed time.
The key question for agencies and advertisers is, what will it mean in the management of your search advertising?
The whole handover from Yahoo to Bing Ads is going to be far shorter than version 1.0 of this arrangement, which was implemented around 11 years ago. Only two weeks were allotted from the first blush to full transition, which is now, at the end of March.
The biggest impact here will be in the advertiser workflow. Obviously, you have one less platform but you also have a far better platform set as Bing and Google are very similar now. Bing will, thanks to its increase in traffic data, be able to introduce smart, query-level bidding solutions approximate to Google in a shorter timeframe than before. This will be great news for those seeking efficiency and less time spent on the Bing platform.
From an account management point of view, your year-on-year reviews are going to be more complicated. But you’re also going to have one less budget to forecast. So you win some, you lose some.
Bing Ads will account for around 35% of search traffic in the US. In international markets where Yahoo is a bigger search engine than Bing, there will be a huge jump.
Since responsive ads (native ads by another name) are in Bing Ads just as they are in Oath/Gemini, your creative will continue to deliver on websites but at a higher volume in a single account.
Search will be easier to control since Oath/Gemini had a different set of options and features, and had very different ad types.
The transition checklist
- Assuming you keep your budgets in place on Yahoo and boost your Bing budgets to cope with the impending traffic influx, you should be fine. No action will be needed on Yahoo since the ads will stop serving automatically.
- Setting up Bing conversion tracking on your website becomes even more of a priority if you haven’t already.
- To counteract the year-on-year comparison issues, just ensure you download all of your Yahoo data, and you should be fine.
- If you’re not particularly familiar with Bing (or are not on it) then this is the time to get to know it much better. And, frankly, if you know Google Ads, it shouldn’t be a stretch. However, there is an excellent Academy site you should look over and, with this Yahoo development, achieving an accreditation has even more value.
- The good news is that if you have yet to use Bing Ads, the process for getting started is way easier than you may imagine. You can simply create a Bing Ads account and then import your Google account wholesale with the least amount of fuss. There are a few elements you’ll need to tweak once the content is imported (such as bidding strategies and bids in general) but you’ll probably find it to be a relatively painless process.
A big takeaway from the last year or so is that Bing is heavily on a growth trajectory. Here are a few data points:
- Since 2015, they have grown US search share from 31% to 34% in 2018 (includes Yahoo/AOL)
- Internationally, Bing has grown at a faster pace (UK: 17% to 20%, FR: 11% to 16%)
- Bing Ads now has access to LinkedIn audiences (currently beta but launching fully soon)
- Bing is an OS-level search engine across not just Windows but increasingly popular Microsoft computing devices, plus Xbox.
- Bing is the voice search engine on Amazon Alexa and the latter’s diversification of Echo and Alexa-compatible devices for presence all over your home and in your car is another crucial factor for the future.
- Bing Ads covering all of Yahoo search ads (and, of course, powering Yahoo organic search) this year is a significant cherry on top of all of this.
Be prepared to work harder on optimizing your Bing accounts and you should see more traffic and sales than ever (especially if you never before waded into the murky Yahoo Gemini waters).
Steve Plimmer is the Head of Account Management US at ESV Digital. He can be found on Twitter @SPlimmer_ESV.
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