We all know how complex the shopping journey has become—omnichannel, universal, multi-screen—so many buzz words…But the fact of the matter is that shoppers are researching about products on and offline, including in-store, across devices and at all times of the day to make purchasing decisions. The question that remains unanswered: how do we confront these challenges from a digital marketing perspective in the 21st century and what role does the search engine play?
Search continues to form a key part of the equation and remains an integral part of the shopper’s purchasing journey. The search engine is the gateway to researching products, discovering deals/offers, comparing prices, and even finding the nearest location to make an offline purchase. According to a survey1 conducted by BloomReach, 34% of shoppers start their product research on a search engine, as opposed to the actual retailer’s website. Furthermore, even when shoppers don’t initiate research on a search engine, 20% turn to search to confirm the best retail products and prices between competitors. In fact, product searches are not limited to online purchases. According to a recent Microsoft study2, 9 in 10 in-store buyers search online before purchasing the product. In other words, for every $1 invested in paid search, the retailer can expect another $6 from in-store visits3.
In line with these market tendencies, we are actively working to ensure a greater retail research experience to end users, along with highly engaging ad products for retailers. As a part of that effort, Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) was released in the US (July 2015), in Australia (Oct 2015), and in Open Pilot in the UK and France (Oct-Nov 2015).
And today, we are very excited to announce the most recent addition—the launch of Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) beta in Germany
This launch marks the arrival of a much awaited Product Ads capability in Germany. During the beta stage, we invite all interested parties in Germany to start advertising with BSC on the Bing Ads platform. Over the next few months, we will continuously tune the platform and improve BSC performance, as we move towards removing the beta tag in Germany. More updates to come, additional product ads capability, and launches in other international markets around the corner—so keep your eyes peeled.
Why Product Ads
Why should I activate BSC, you say? Product Ads are a great way to showcase your products at the precise moment that shoppers are eager to discover more. For retail queries, this is one of the most engaging ad formats, as it surfaces top information such as product image, price, retailer name and other information directly in the ad copy. Not only does this engage the shopper more than traditional text ads, but it also drives more informed ad click decisions, thus leading to more qualified paid search traffic. With Product Ads, most customers are able to bring down their average cost per click, improve conversion rates, and significantly improve the ROI of their search spend. In a recent internal study4, we found that conversion rates in Product Ads are on average 49% higher than that of text ads, whilst the CPCs are 29% lower.
If you are a retailer, Bing Shopping Campaigns are a fabulous way to showcase your ad products. BSC gives you greater control over targeting, allows you to manage bids at the item/category/other attribute levels and get the performance data at item level granularity. An added bonus—if you are already using Google Shopping Campaigns, it is very easy to import your existing Google feeds and Shopping Campaigns in Bing Ads. See below for detailed steps on getting started with BSC.
Getting started with Bing Shopping Campaigns
In 4 easy steps, you can get started with Bing Shopping Campaigns. Only two of these steps are needed only for the initial setup, whilst the other 2 are required for ongoing campaign management.
Step 1: Claim your domain
If you do not have a Bing Merchant Store already, the first step is to claim your domain by signing in to the Bing Webmaster tool by using your Microsoft Account credentials (reminder: this is the same information used to sign in to your Bing Ads account). The tool enables you to add your website and learn ways to verify ownership. You only need to register the domain for the site where you will be selling products. If you have already registered, your web domain to use with other Bing tools, there is no need to register it again to create a Bing Merchant Center Store.
Step 2: Create your store
Now let’s get started with BSC! First of all, you need to create a Bing Merchant Center store. (For those with a BMC store, use your current store & feed—simply go into the store to Enable Product Ads). The BMC store is a tool where the advertiser’s product catalogue is managed and housed. The next step: log in to your Bing Ads account, click on Tools, and select Bing Merchant Center as shown below. This opens the BMC store page.
When creating the store, please keep in mind the following:
- The Store name will be used in your ad creative to identify the Merchant; this name cannot be edited once the store is created, unless it is escalated to the support team.
- In the Destination URL box, the URL added via the Bing Webmaster tool in step 1 should be used.
Once you click Save, your request is sent to Microsoft Support for policy compliance review, which typically takes 1-2 business days. The requests will be rejected if the website does not comply with Bing Ads policy. You can check the status of your request by visiting the Store Summary Tab in the BMC tool. You will also receive an automated email after your request is reviewed. If your store is rejected, changes can be made to meet the policy requirements and your request can be resubmitted. Once your store is approved, your initial setup would be complete.
Step 3: Upload Catalogue
Before you create your Bing Shopping Campaigns, it’s necessary to upload your product feed. First, create a catalogue in the BMC, which enables you to organise your feed data, group your product inventory and manage each group independently. Each catalogue is used for a specific market, which you can choose while creating the catalogue. Multiple catalogues within a store are also possible.
One feed file for each product group should be created and uploaded into the catalogue. Depending upon the size of your inventory, many options are available for uploading the feed. Google Shopping Feeds are also compatible, so it’s not necessary to create a different feed file for the BMC. Once you have uploaded the feed, monitor the progress in the Catalog summary tab.
- Several factors determine the time required to process your feed file. The first time usually takes 24 hours. If the feed file is large, it may take between 2-3 days to complete the processing. Updates to an existing feed e.g. price, availability etc. are processed much faster.
- Your feed expires after 30 days, so ensure that you schedule a periodic refresh of the file.
- If the feed file is missing one or more required product attributes, the entire feed will be rejected. Make sure the file contains a header row, as this is a common reason for rejection. For full information on feed attributes, look at this link.
- Additionally, your feed might get rejected if the URL included in your product feed does not direct to the item's page. If the link redirects the user to a page that differs from the product offering, it will get rejected.
Step 4: Create Bing Shopping Campaigns
Excellent—you are now set up to create your campaigns! For more information, read a detailed overview of Bing Shopping Campaigns. You can also find performance and optimisation tips for BSC.
There's more to come
As mentioned earlier in this blog, we will continuously improve the product ads experience for both shoppers and retailers. Stay tuned to our blog for further announcements or get a summary of BSC anytime, as we look to expand the offering into other Bing Ads markets in the upcoming months. For more information on BSC, troubleshooting or if you simply need a hand setting up your Bing Shopping Campaigns, reach out to your Account Manager or Bing Ads support. We’d be happy to assist.
Any comments, questions or feedback to share?
As always, feel free to ping us on Twitter or if you have feedback related to specific features you'd like to see improved or added, visit our Feature Suggestion Forum to add or vote on your top priorities for upcoming releases.