Bing offered a clear-cut overview of its SERPs and Ads features at SES New York.

SERPs are like Coca-Cola and Pepsi… there are two major brands in the space, and at the surface they may seem similar. But Jason Dailey, search evangelist for Microsoft, says there’s a lot happening under the hood. Be forewarned: This SES New York session was presented by Bing, so attendees can guess which kool aid (or cola) the presenters are drinking. Nonetheless, Daily and Brian Utter, senior director of Bing Ads Marketing, offered a useful overview of Bing SERPS for SEO marketers, as well as a need-to-know info about the tools in the Yahoo! Bing Network.

Efficient search: How Bing offers answers without taking away site clicks

One of the major criticisms aimed at Google is that the engine’s efforts to provide answers to users’ queries cannibalize clicks: Users won’t click through to sites if they find what they want on the engines directly. Dailey explained how Bing SERPs work to encourage clicks, providing an overview of the standard results page.

  • Results: Bing is trying to move away from “10 blue links,” but the engine provides a core list of results to users.
  • Snapshots: These are previews of results pages. The snapshots help users decide where to click, but don’t reveal the full result to avoid discouraging clicks.
  • Sidebar: This represents social results or answers. The social data draws on what audiences know to help highlight the best answers.

Bing’s social sidebar is “inclusive,” said Daily. It draws data from Facebook, foursquare, Google+ and more. “We’re looking to find the best from what the social web shows, where Google is exclusive, only pulling from Google+ data.”

Bing search options for every connected experience

Bing is also committed to creating a connected search experience for users across its devices. How does this benefit marketers? Utter explained that vertical integration helps provide the right content when it counts for users.  Bing’s search integration carries across:

  • Windows 8 mobile search App (touch is fluid and fast)
  • Office (making it easy for users to incorporate information into Excel, Word and PowerPoint)
  • Xbox (allowing users to have immersive content experiences related to their Xbox activities)
  • Trajectory (giving drivers access to information about the right locations)

Daily elaborated on Trajectory, explaining, “If you’re searching in your car, you don’t want to see a gas station that will be a mile behind you by the time you figure out where it is.” Trajectory gives results based on movement, rather than location.

He also alluded to an augmented reality app: When users hold up your Windows phones, Bing will show nearby venues for eating, shopping and more. (Perhaps an alternate for the much-buzzed Google Glass?)

Is Bing really worth marketers’ time?

With most Americans Googling for the answers they seek, Bing’s evangelists recognize some companies overlook Bing SEO or paid search strategies altogether. Daily offered some insights on why marketers can’t overlook Bing in 2013. Here are three:

“We have a competitor in search that’s a verb. That’s difficult. But we think the experience we offer will win users.” – Brian Utter, senior director of Bing Ads Marketing.

  1. 153 million unique searchers use the Yahoo! Bing Network
  2. One-third of all Yahoo! Bing Network users DO NOT use Google.
  3. People who view BingAds on the YBN spend more.

Adding fuel to the fire, Utter said Bing released more than 1,000 backend improvements on the backend to improve its engine.

Tools to better connect to audiences via Bing Ads

While marketers can use the same ads for Bing as they do for Google, “the corpus of demand is different – many of our users aren’t even in Google.” Utter recommended marketers create custom ads based on what proves to work with a brand’s Bing search audiences. He highlighted available tools to help.

  • Zero to click: When an advertiser is in the onbaording process,  Zero to Click offers a guided experience. This is the tool for audiences to learn about campaign setup and how to comply with Bing’s Editorial guidelines (yep – content counts for Bing PPC).
  • Analytics and Transpancy: Streamlined campaign management saves search marketers time, so Bing’s analytics tools make it easy to get a bird’s eye view of their results. The tool aims to make it easier to make paid search decisions based on ROI. It offers search query reports for campaign management, and allows marketers to appeal editorial rejections in bulk and online. Marketers also get competitive insights, such as:
    • Do top ads perform better than side ads? (Understand where specific audiences are more likely to click.)
    • What’s a company’s share of voice? (How many impressions is a company losing to the competition, and how does Quality Score impact that?
  • User Control: Brands can manage the device selection for distinct PPC ads, as well as other variables. (Utter didn’t go into detail … Location targeting?)
  • Bing Ads Intelligence: Get keyword and marketplace research. Generate new keywords and see how much traffic they have. See traffic across devices and understand the level of keyword competition.

The anatomy of a Bing Ad

Utter also explained what a Bing Ad looks like, to help marketers understand all of the features available to them within ads.

  • Long ad title options: allows brands to develop the ideal headline length
  • Local ad extensions: opportunities to add your address

He explained extensions are different from annotations. Ad publishers create their own extensions, while annotations are pieces of the ad that Bing creates.

  • Call ad products: options for searchers to call via distinct numbers that are easy to track or Skype numbers
  • Ad annotations: merchant ratings (which are a good thing for companies with positive reviews online, but maybe less desirable for those working on building good reputations…)
  • Sitelink extensions: creates deep links to websites and highlights additional promotions or offers.

Utter explained sitelink extensions also come with element level reports (which links, in which places on the ad drive the best results?).

Coming soon: New opportunities to influence Bing searchers

Bing executive also talked about in-the-works features that can help marketers further refine their search engine marketing efforts on Bing. The tools are aimed at moving beyond keyword data to determine which content matters for users. “We talk a lot about intent in Bing Ads, which can make the keyword an imprecise indicator,” said Utter. 

  • Product Ads: provides rich ad formatting options to promote updated product inventory at scale.
  • Marketplace horsepower: takes a query and culls from the Bing Ad Network to deliver not only an ad that matches the query, but also that offers the right product at the right price to help support clicks and, more importantly, downstream sales
  • Global readiness: a global marketplace for users to deliver the most relevant ad editorial
  • Search industry insights via Bing: will allow Bing to “make optimization recommendations, product insights based on demand and overall help your company’s strategic planning with our data.”
  • Vertical integration: more ad options, drawing from Bing’s connected search experience

“We have a competitor in search that’s a verb. That’s difficult. But we think the experience we offer will win users,” said Utter.

Stay tuned for more #SESNY insights from Brafton.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.