Can this trend hold? We think not. Microsoft’s history in online, in our opinion, is one of playing a game of catch-up, and generally playing it poorly. When it comes to the Internet, Microsoft copies others’ efforts, and usually does quite a mediocre job of it. Bing is no different – they have copied Google’s search page almost exactly. Even the color of the premium sponsored ads at the top of the page are shaded orange, just as
Google’s are. But one doesn’t need to look for long to see the silliness of Microsoft to shine through. A sponsored ad goes to three lines long and looks amateurish (screenshot at right). The #2 organic result for the query ‘php developers’ is for the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is billed as “your source for information about using PHP with Yahoo! Web Services APIs." It would be a very, very small minority of searchers for this phrase that would care about this specific topic, yet it’s the second result.
We think that the buzz will die down, and Bing’s market share will trend back toward where it has been. If, in the unlikely event Bing.com were to grab and keep a large share of the search market, advertisers would be much, much worse off. This is because pay-per-click marketing is a self-service activity. The advertiser interface provided by the search platform is key to enabling the advertiser to use thorough PPC management techniques to achieve positive ROI on a worthwhile scale. Google does a brilliant job at this, and yet it strives all the harder to improve its advertiser interface. Microsoft’s AdCenter interface is laughably bad. I considered not using “laughably” as an adjective here, but decided I had to, for truth in blogging. In addition to an overall horrible interface, AdCenter’s conversion tracking system is unable to report on revenue from e-commerce transactions.
A related question: guess who constitutes a major category of keyword advertisers? Drumroll…that’s right – e-commerce companies.
Terry Whalen is a certified Google AdWords Professional and a partner at CPC Search. Since early 2003, he has managed search and other online marketing channels that have generated millions of dollars worth of revenue for clients such as Stamps.com, CitrixOnline, Autoweb.com, SoftwareOnline.com, Taleo, and Pacific Security Capital, among others.