Bing Ads Device Targeting: Never Say Never

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news that came out of Bing Ads on Wednesday: they’re making some changes to device targeting to, well, be more like Google. The changes don’t go into effect until September, so advertisers have time to plan. There will be an initial phase that combines desktop and tablets, and then a second phase that eliminates separate campaigns for devices altogether, moving instead to the bid modifier model that Google has – except, Bing will have a tablet modifier.

Here’s what campaign structure will look like when all is said and done, and how Bing Ads device targeting compares to Google:

bing campaigns

Needless to say, the news has not been well-received by the PPC community. Personally, I appreciate the fact that Bing is giving us a lot of notice about the changes – more than Google gave us for Enhanced Campaigns. And I love the fact that they’ll be including a tablet modifier – something we have repeatedly requested of Google, to no avail.

But what is so disappointing about the announcement is that it basically negates the bold statements made by Bing Ads in the past. Just last year, Bing Ads wrote a manifesto saying “We Believe In Advertiser Choice.” They made the point in multiple speaking engagements; I remember a Bing Ads team member at SMX Advanced last year saying they would continue to offer advertisers control over devices – and the room erupted in applause.

This was really a differentiator for Bing Ads. For advertisers with a discrete mobile budget, Bing Ads was their only choice. For advertisers who needed to control tablet spend, Bing Ads was their only choice. Come September, those choices will start to go away.

I guess all good things must come to an end. In PPC, things are constantly changing – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. But it’s a little frustrating to see Bing Ads do an about face on something they repeatedly said they’d never do. Never say never, I guess.

I had the privilege of being on an “advanced notice” call about the changes that took place prior to the announcement. Several other industry leaders were also on the call. The feedback on the call was universally negative. Several people brought up concerns about the model, especially the fact that the tablet modifier starts at -20%. Why not -100% or at least -50%?

Bing claims that their research shows that the average advertiser sees results 20% worse on tablets. I’m sure that’s true. But how many of us are average advertisers? As the saying goes, averages lie – especially in this case.

So why did they do it? While I don’t know the real reason, I think it comes down to efficiency. Enhanced campaigns threw us all for a loop last year, Bing Ads included. They did a miraculous job of maintaining the ability to import Google campaigns in the face of Enhanced Campaigns.

But I believe it’s costing them. The fact that things aren’t exactly the same as Google causes issues with campaign imports. They realize that for people to really embrace Bing, they need to have as much parity as possible with Google. I’d be willing to bet that the lack of parity is costing them big, both in lost advertiser dollars and in development costs trying to maintain a system that doesn’t match Google’s exactly.

So did Bing Ads make the right decision? Only time will tell. I still love many things about Bing: better results in many cases than Google, lower CPCs, amazing reps and community managers who truly care about the PPC community, and many tools that are better than Google, including a tablet modifier. Who knows – maybe this will spur Google to offer a modifier as well!

What do you think about the announcement? Does it really mess up your campaigns, or doesn’t it matter? Do you like the way it was handled? Share in the comments!

 

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Comments

  1. Matt Graves says:

    Not that it has a major effect on my day to day, but I got feel that this still sucks for Mobile App developers and mobile only business, that wanted a mobile only campaign and not display on my parents 5 year old PC ;)

    Thanks for the update!

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