Google Ads vs. Microsoft Advertising: 5 important differences among the search engine giants

Do you only have to adjust to Google Ads at SEA or is Microsoft Advertising a real alternative? The article provides answers for everyone who does search engine advertising.

SEA is one of the most important disciplines in online marketing. When creating and controlling search engine advertising, the first point of contact is usually Google’s Google Ads advertising program. Some companies may overlook the fact that there is another important platform for search engine advertising: Microsoft Advertising. The following explains the differences between the two providers and the advantages for use.

The reach of the advertisements

The big dog here is of course Google – there is no way around optimizing ads in the most used search engine in America and Europe. Google’s market share is over 90 percent. Microsoft covers the majority of the remaining ten percent with its search engine Bing. The reach of the two digital giants and the associated search engine advertising platforms – Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising – is the biggest and most obvious difference that marketers have to keep in mind.

Search engine market shares in Germany by statounter (click on the picture to get a larger view), © Statcounter

Controlled platforms

Via Google Ads, companies reach their target group not only with the famous search engine, but also with the various other products such as Google Play, the broad display network or Google Shopping. With YouTube, Google also has one of the largest social networks in the advertising portfolio.

Microsoft Advertising also opens up access to various platforms. Of course, the search engine products include Microsoft’s own search engine Bing, but also various sub-platforms, each of which uses Bing’s search algorithm. Prominent examples include Yahoo, AOL and the eco search engine Ecosia. Microsoft Advertising also opens up access to platforms that are outside the actual Microsoft universe.

In addition to search engines, ads from Microsoft Advertising are also played on Bing Shopping and X-Box Live. The popular gaming platform in particular is an important difference to Google Ads, since the Stadia platform from Google is not yet open for ads. The giant from California’s Mountain View does not yet have a comparable product for games in its portfolio.

The user interface

Up until a few months ago, the user interfaces of both platforms were confusingly similar. In the meantime, however, Google Ads has undergone a fundamental restructuring and design.

Campaign overview on Google Ads
Campaign overview on Google Ads (click on the picture to get a larger view), source: Cormes

Microsoft Advertising looks like the “old” Google Ads today and it is to be expected that Microsoft will also redesign its platform in the coming years.

Campaign overview at Microsoft Advertising
Campaign overview at Microsoft Advertising (click on the picture to get a larger view), source: Cormes

However, the basic handling is still similar: In Google Ads, the most important navigation points are shown on the left side, in Microsoft Advertising those are in the header and are not unlike different open tabs in an Internet browser. As far as mobile applicability is concerned, however, the two major platforms are the same: They are more suitable for checking the current data and, due to the complexity, are less suitable for optimizing the various campaigns. As far as this point is concerned, it is very likely that some changes are to be expected in the next few years.

Naming functions

Despite the new Google interface, navigation on both platforms is comparatively simple and intuitive. Those who are familiar with Google Ads will have no major problems with Microsoft Advertising. Nevertheless, there are some subtle differences to be mentioned: “Labels”, in which more detailed information for internal use is noted, are called “names” at Microsoft. “Opportunities” (Google) are the same as “Opportunities” (Microsoft), “Costs” correspond to “Expenses”, “Bulk Operations” are the same as “Bulk Processing”. The differences are therefore marginal – but whoever knows them saves confusion at one point or another.

Google Ads Microsoft Advertising
Labels Designations
Opportunities options
costs expenditure
Conversionwert revenue
Extensions with additional information Legend expansion
Conversion Tag UET Tag (Universal Event Tracking)
Conversion action Final goals
Bulk operations Responding
Keyword options: Broad match – Matching phrase – Exact match Keyword Options: Wide – Expression – Exact
Shopping Feed Katalog

General availability

A big difference between the two important advertising platforms is the availability for different countries. Google Ads is available in almost every country – advertisements can therefore be displayed across the globe. However, a few countries and regions are due to political restrictions excluded from the program, including Syria, North Korea, Iran and Cuba.

In contrast, Microsoft Advertising is available for significantly fewer countries. Just 35 states the company lists for the search engine Bing, for example. For shopping campaigns, the availability of both providers is somewhat more limited: Google offers product ads in over 90 countries, while Microsoft Advertising is only in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, India and Canada available.

Conclusion: Microsoft Advertising is an addition to Google Ads

One thing is clear: Google Ads is superior to the smaller Microsoft Advertising in many factors. Accordingly, marketers should primarily focus on the Google advertising platform. Microsoft Advertising is a good addition, however, if all possibilities have already been exhausted at Google. Because of the lower reach, Microsoft is also suitable for campaigns with lower budgets. In return, companies not only get access to the X-Box Live games platform, but also use their ads to reach users who largely circumvent the Google universe by using alternative search engines such as Ecosia. For this reason, online marketing activities via Microsoft Advertising are an important addition to the classic Google Ads.