With the recent announcement that Bing Ads Express is shutting down, Marc Poirier, Acquisio founder and SEM expert, looks into what went wrong and offers his suggestions on how Bing could turn the tables and potentially revive the Express Ads program in a new way.
“On July 30th, we will sunset the Bing Ads Express product and will offer search marketing opportunities to our customers only through Bing Ads,” announced Bing this week, on June 16th, 2014.
The Bings Ads Express program launched last October, 2013, and allowed SMBs to set up ads without fussing over any of the campaign details. Businesses simply filled out a short form with their basic company information, set their budget and the Bing team did the rest of the work.
The goal was to help out small businesses that didn’t have the time or the expertise to manage their paid search campaigns. In theory, taking all the stress and work out of paid search was great, but in reality, Bing Ads Express just didn’t sync with users. Here’s why.
What Went Wrong
For one thing, Bing Ads Express presumably wasn’t being used by its intended clientele.
Bing wanted to target businesses with limited experience in paid search, people who didn’t know what keywords to use or how to manage their ads. But SMBs with limited experience and a limited budget more often than not invested their money in paid search they recognized and trusted – like Google.
Instead, Bing was likely working with SMBs who were” too savvy” for the Bing Ads Express program, explains SEM expert and Acquisio founder, Marc Poirier. “Likely the businesses advertising on Bing only knew about the search engine because they already had sufficient spend or experience with Google AdWords and they wanted to experiment with some other advertising route.”
In that case, the simplicity of the program would not appeal to the more experienced SMBs using it. Suddenly the entire premise of the system becomes a problem. Clients wanted more control over their ads. The SMBs wanted to decide where their ads were showing up, what keywords were being used and so on, and that kind of input was not compatible with the Express model.
Another problem Bing Ads Express faced was traction. “Bing would have had to spend a fortune acquiring new relationships with their clients, setting up accounts and supporting them,” said Poirier. Bing would have to spend a lot of time and money convincing SMBs to advertise with them, and it just wasn’t worth the effort.
One last problem Bing Ads Express faced was the limitations of their product. Express was a PPC program, but SMBs don’t care about clicks as much as they care about calls and conversions. There are no call tracking features with Bing Express Ads, and the basic features that come with the program didn’t do much to maximize conversions for local or mobile. True, these are not basic features, and true, Google Adwords Express has these same issues, but without offering too much in the way of paid search, it was difficult for Bing to attract new businesses and draw SMBs away from Google Adwords.
Express Ads 2.0?
Is there still hope for the Bing Ads Express product? It’s been retired, and reporters are saying R.I.P, but Marc Poirier feels there’s still a glimmer of life there.
“Working with resellers is the way to go,” explains Acquisio’s founder. “Removing the SMB facing portal doesn’t mean Bing won’t keep a lot of the work they did and use it for resellers. Bing Ads Express for resellers is still on the table.”
Trying to address SMBs one by one didn’t work. It will more strategic for Bing to work with resellers who already have thousands of clients and can introduce a new product, like Bing Ads Express, easily.
Plus, it will be better for Bing to work with resellers who you can incentivise to promote their product to SMBs. That way, instead of selling to SMBs themselves and making little headway, resellers can help Bing push their product on already existing clients.
Bing may have lost the Express Ads battle so far, but they’re still fighting the paid search war. According to Poirier, with smart strategies and partnerships, the underdog might just come out on top.