Six Moves to Put Your Automotive Campaigns in the Driver’s Seat

With Q1 on the books, it’s the perfect time to look at your numbers and see how you’re fairing in the online marketplace for 2016. Could you do better with your digital spend? Perhaps. Can Bing Ads help you maximize the quality and boost the quantity of car buyers to your site? Yes!

While you’ve been doing what you do best – selling – we on the Bing Ads team have been doing what we do best – monitoring search trends and adding new features (like Image extensions) to our ad platform to help auto manufacturers, dealerships and agencies get more clicks and conversions.

2016 suggests continued growth in the car-buying market. A strong consumer confidence index, low interest rates and a much-needed break in gas prices are all fueling a projected increase in auto sales of $3.4 billion over 2015.[1] How much you grab depends, in part, on how skillfully you spend your online marketing dollars. Luckily, we spent half of last year studying the behavior of online auto shoppers.

Below are six tips to get you on the road to some quick wins. They are designed to help you create, target, implement and measure the most effective ads to lift conversions.

1. Target auto shoppers early in and throughout their journey

We followed 3,000 users on their automotive Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) and captured the details in Bing Ad’s 2016 Automotive Insights presentation. We found that the average consumer journey lasted 96.3 days, with visits to automotive websites every 4.3 days.[2]

During that time, consumers considered 9.8 makes and 11.4 models on average. When they first start looking for a new vehicle, consumers throw a wide net which narrows as they get closer to purchase. Make sure your makes and models are part of the early consideration set. With 20% of automotive related page views on search engines and with visits to search engines taking place throughout the CDJ, paid search campaigns are a sure fire way to reach car shoppers.

Use Universal Event Tracking (UET) and Remarketing in Paid Search to target shoppers throughout that 3-month journey. Place one UET tag across your website and track what your customers are doing after they click on your ad. When used in conjunction with remarketing lists, you get a second chance with to turn website visitors into customers by showing them tailored ads based on their previous actions.

2. Budget appropriately for your auto campaigns

In looking at search volume over the year, we found fairly steady volume throughout the year with a few spikes over the summer and around the holidays.[3] Make your biggest investment in your year-round, ongoing campaigns, while having some flexibility to adjust to summer travel and winter new model spikes.

To streamline campaign management, set up Automated Rules to schedule and automate your campaign management operations. Use these rules to enable and pause ads, ad groups and campaigns, to adjust keyword and ad group bids, or to change a campaign’s budget automatically based on the criteria you select. You can also use the Notify Me rules to proactively monitor your budgets and performance for a specific timeframe or throughout the year.

3. Focus on your local market

Automotive searchers want to know what dealerships and inventory are available in their local market. Bing Ads found that searches for online marketplaces (such as “cars com” and “craigslist cars”) account for half of automotive related search volume.3 If you’re a dealership, you can take advantage of online marketplace related searches’ high volume and low cost-per-click (CPC) by focusing on keywords for your own dealership and for local pages of popular online marketplaces.


To help drive foot traffic into your local dealership, use Call extensions and Location extensions, which can lift click-through rate (CTR) by up to 10% and 20%, respectively. Call extensions, like click-to-call, help customers quickly call and connect to your business. Location extensions, like store locator and click-to-direction, help customers quickly find your business. And don’t forget to layer in location targeting to ensure optimal customer experience and the most relevant leads.

4. Show off your inventory with image extensions

In our CDJ study, we found that 4 in 10 automotive related searches are for images.2 Furthermore, 45% of consumers viewed more than 36.7 car images on a search engine. Leverage this tendency and add more visual appeal to your ad with Image extensions. Adding images of your latest models to your ad can help grab searchers’ attention and increase clicks.


5. Grow your business, grow yourself

To make the most of your campaigns, take advantage of more offerings from our platform to connect with more customers and get better return on investment. They’ll help you stand out from the competition.

·    To direct customers to specific pages on your website, check out Sitelink and Enhanced Sitelink extensions. These extra links let you promote specific products, services or sections of your site, and they lead searchers to the information they need to learn more and take action. They can boost CTR by up to 13% over standard text ads.

·    To reach specific demographics, use Demographic targeting. Over the past year, Bing Ads has improved our demographic targeting with increased age and gender coverage to help you improve the chance of your ads showing to the demographic groups you want.

·    To free up some time to sell some cars, let our expert Bing Ads coaches help you plan, create and improve your ads. They can help your set up your account, import your ads from current Google AdWords account, and more. They can also help you get familiar with the tools, events and resources that will help you successfully manage your PPC campaigns. Did we mention this is free? No cost, no commitment. Just an easy way to help you get up and running with Bing Ads.

6. Reach quality Bing Network audience

To make the most of your automotive campaigns, get to know the Bing Network audience. Numbers show that about 22 million searchers used the Bing Network – including 17 million unique searchers not reached on Google – for 87 million automotive related searches, and accounted for 41% of all automotive paid clicks[4]. Compared to Google, the Bing Network audience is more likely to have bought a new vehicle offline in the last 6 months, and to plan to buy a convertible/sports car in the next 6 months.[5] For more insights on our audience, visit our Audience Insights page.


Armed with this new knowledge and with Q2 underway, now might be the best time to sign in to Bing Ads and see how your current campaigns are working for your business.

Let Bing Ads help you put your online campaigns into overdrive! Check out more search trends and automotive insights in our infographic below and in our Automotive Insights presentation.

For more seasonal and vertical insights, check out the Bing Ads Insights Portal.



[1] IBISWorld, IBISWorld Industry Report 33611a: Car & Automobile Manufacturing in the U.S., September 2015;
IBISWorld, IBISWorld Industry Report 33611b: SUV & Light Truck Manufacturing in the U.S., January 2015.

[2] Microsoft internal analytics data. Sample: 3,000 users on an Automotive Consumer Decision Journey, with at least 50 page views on automotive related domains. PC traffic only. Timeframe: 1/1/2015 to 6/30/2015.

[3] Microsoft internal query analytics data. Timeframe: 10/1/2014–09/30/2015.

[4] comScore qSearch (custom), US, June 2015; industry categories based on comScore classifications.

[5] comScore Plan Metrix, US, June 2015, custom measure created using comScore indices and duplication. June data was used to reflect the month prior to the beginning of the automotive season.

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Make the Grade in Back to School Sales

Books closed. Pencils down. Laptops packed. School’s out for summer. While summer camp or a vacation may be top of mind for customers, shopping for back-to-school is right there too. 63% of consumers start shopping as early as June, so get your ad plans ready to go early and plan through September.




Here are a few key insights.

In 2015, 37% of back-to-school spending was on K-12 students with apparel being the most purchased – some 50% of total sales. 63% was spent on those heading for their freshman year or back to complete their undergrad.

12% more customers spent $500 or more on kids clothing in the last six months with Bing Network searches vs Google.

TIP: Include keywords like back-to-school and back-to-college in your ads.


While 91% of people are still heading in store, 60% are browsing, comparing or shopping online.

Tip: Adding a call or location extension can increase click-through’s 3 – 10%.


Make the grade in mobile commerce.
• 37% of shoppers will use their smartphone for back-to-school supplies.
• That’s a 15% increase over last year and
• 12% will use their tablet.

For more digital insights on trends to ad words that work, go to the complete Back-to-School presentation here and head to the top of the class in your back-to-school sales.

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Bing Ads is now accepting .pharmacy top-level domains

As of April 13, 2016 in the United States and Canada, Bing Ads is now accepting .pharmacy top-level domains as proof of accreditation from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) for online pharmacies and prescription-only medications. Bing Ads requires that all pharmaceutical advertiser in the United States or Canada, are accredited by the NABP. This new .pharmacy program, as well as previously accepted forms of accreditation will continue to be accepted under the Bing Ads Pharmacy and health care products and services policies.


Benefit to our users and advertisers

Microsoft is directly engaged with the NABP to ensure that these advertising requirements and accreditation programs help provide a safe environment for our users, as well as a positive experience for you as an advertiser. This top-level domain is not available through domain resellers and is not transferrable; only companies that have been fully vetted by the NABP are granted a .pharmacy domain.  This safe guard can help users quickly identify that they are on an accredited website just by looking at the URL.

To learn about additional program requirements, or to apply for a .pharmacy domain, please visit the program website,


Questions? Comments?

As always, feel free to ping us on Twitter, or you can email us directly at


Thank you,


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The Art of Advertiser Science: The Science of Remarketing follow-up and Q & A

We had our latest Art of Advertising Science webcast last week where we covered paid remarketing. Remarketing is how you can say hello again to customers who have previously visited your site, with an ad that shows up when they search on relevant terms. For example, let’s say you want to target visitors who spent 2+ minutes on a product page, maybe your Insane Running Shoe page. The next time those people search on keywords related to your Insane Running Shoe, your ad will appear in the search results. And here’s the cool thing – your ad copy can be much more specific, perhaps with a headline that says, “Insane Running Shoes – Free Shipping.”  

Not only are you able to say hello again, you’re also able to act on interested customers with more thoughtfully targeted advertising. That whole scenario sounds dreamy and perfect – and it is. But it also requires some implementation to get it up and running.  

Today we’re answering all of the questions we got during the webcast but didn’t have time to answer. If you have new questions that aren’t answered here, ask in the comments or take it social with #AskBingAds. 


  • Date: May 31, 2016 | Time: 11am PST 

Here we go: 

Q. When do remarketing ads show? Where do remarketing ads show? 

A. Remarketing (also called retargeting) is how you say hello again to people who have already visited your website. Remarketing shows your ads to your targeted site visitors when they do a search on the Bing Network, using keywords that are relevant to your product or service. For example, let’s say a site visitor put a camera in their shopping cart on your site, then left the site. Using Universal Event Tracking (UET) or another tag management system, you’re able to identify every visitor who has left an item in a cart and you can put them into a specific remarketing list. The next time these same people search Bing for anything using keywords you’ve bid on (such as cameras, camera cases or camera reviews), your ad shows in the search results page with ad copy you can customize targeting that customer.  


Q. Will UET work with ASPNET and with Adobe Dynamic Tag Management? 

A. Yes it will. 


Q. What is the difference between Microsoft Search Remarketing and our regular PPC ads? 

A. With remarketing, you are only targeting people who have already visited your website. So ads that you serve to these people are based on the knowledge that they’re already interested in your products or services. With regular PPC campaigns, you’re targeting a general audience based on the keywords they use, regardless of whether they’ve ever expressed interest in your specific company or website. Using UET you will be able to build a list of customers based on actions they take on their site and then target ads specifically to them. 


Q. Given the engagement from users on visual, will there be any chance of a return of content ads, or dynamic image/text ads like with Google’s remarketing ads? 

A. Bing’s native ads, currently in beta, are an excellent option for including a visual in your remarketing strategy. Native ads are a search-based product that serve in a content environment (currently only MSN) instead of in the search results page. Ads are served based on three user factors: Search history, context of page and remarketing list. Additionally, you can use Image Extensions and Video Extensions (in beta).  


Q. How would remarketing work well for a car dealership where there are no online purchases being made? 

A. Remarketing goals can be anything you want them to be and do not need to be tied to online purchases. In your context, you would implement UET on your dealership website to track visitor behavior and then create remarketing goals/lists based on what you’d like those visitors to do. For example, visitors who spend at least two minutes on Make/Model X web page might get a remarketing ad with Make/Model X in the headline and an invitation to test drive in the description.  


Q. How does remarketing work for big ticket items, such as cars? 

A. Remarketing works just as well for selling toothbrushes as it does for selling cars. If you know you need an in-person or over the phone connection with a customer to close a deal use Call and Location Extensions in your ads. See the example above for how it can accomplish your goals. 


Q. Can you remarket to visitors who have been to a specific page on your site? 

A. Absolutely.  


Q. Can I bid on my competitor’s terms if they are trademarked? 

A. Yes, you can bid on keywords that are your competitor’s terms if they are trademarked. But you cannot use those terms in your ad copy or title. Learn more about our Intellectual Property Policies and Editorial Policy


Q. Is the strategy different for remarketing using display image ads versus regular text ads? 

A. Yes – because remarketing in paid search understands intent much better than remarketing in display does. With remarketing in paid search, your ad is served to a previous site visitor based on keywords they use in a search, which is a clear expression of their intent. With remarketing in display, your ad is served to a previous site visitor based on the demographics that the content site claims to have.  


Q. I am a boat captain, and I take people fishing. I am highly ranked on TripAdvisor. Can I link my ad to TripAdvisor? 

A. We do not recommend directing your searcher to a site that you do not have control of. Landing pages (the web page that the searcher lands on when they click on an ad) need to be relevant to the ad in order to get a quality ranking in our search engine algorithm, and if you cannot control the page that you link to at TripAdvisor, you cannot know for sure that your searcher is going to see the correct information. 


Q. What topics or who CAN’T we remarket to? 

A. You must comply with all laws, regulations, self-regulatory guidelines and other policies applicable to remarketing campaigns, which includes any prohibitions on creation of remarketing lists based on sensitive data. Sensitive data may include health information, personal identification numbers, sexual orientation, or other categories generally recognized as sensitive in nature. It is your obligation to understand and comply with any such prohibitions applicable in the market(s) where you operate. For more information, please see our Bing Ads policy for Remarketing


Q. Why remarket to converters if you’re already using targeted email marketing (email blasts based on purchase data)? 

A. Remarketing can be an additional channel for reaching your targeted audience, and when used in conjunction with effective email marketing would likely increase your chances of getting that converter to act again. This is a perfect time to upsell or resell to a customer based on purchase and site behavior.  


Q. How can a company in a niche market, with low visitors to the website, take advantage of remarketing? It will take a lot of time to generate a remarketing list with 1000 visitors. 

A. This is an excellent question, but unfortunately to ensure quality the minimum number of users for an effective remarketing list is 1000. In your case, remarketing might not be a viable channel just yet, but I would suggest adding UET and by the holidays or over six months you should be able to build a usable list.  


Q. Is it possible to prevent a particular shopper from seeing our remarketing ads? 

A. Remarketing lists have a strict 1000-user minimum, so you will not be able to target one specific user (helps preserve user anonymity), but the current release of remarketing also does not include support for exclusions—they are in development. In the meantime, you can set the bid adjustment of an association to -90%, which will achieve a very similar effect. 

Q. Can I use my competitor’s URL’s to remarket to their customers? 

A. No you can’t point people to a competitor’s site or use their official URL in your ad copy – you could use their name in your display URL. It’s a controversial strategy but not against Bing Ads policy.  


Q. Complementary site cross-marketing – wouldn’t this affect privacy policies and disclosures? 

A. Yes it would, and companies that partner in this way would need to be mindful of these issues. There's no specific guidance on this with regard to Remarketing, but the answer will depend on whether these accounts are under the same customer shell. If they are not, you will not be able to share Remarketing lists across different customer shells. 


Q. Can I build my remarketing list based on all website visitors, or only visitors that came through Bing Ads originally? 

A. Your remarketing list is based on all website visitors, regardless of how they got to your site. 


Q. Can I import my Google Adwords Remarketing campaign? 

A. This is currently in our feature development list for Remarketing; stay tuned to the blog and social accounts for announcements on when this feature goes is available.  


Q. How can we use our retargeting lists from other channels (like Adwords or Facebook)? Is it possible to display Microsoft ads to a list created via other ad networks? 

A. This functionality is currently in development, but right now your Remarketing list comes exclusively from visitors to your website that have been tagged via your UET tag. Currently we cannot import AdWords and/or Facebook lists into Bing Ads Remarketing. 


Q. Are remarketing ads only shown in search or are they also shown on media sites? 

A. Your remarketing ads will show across the Bing Network, which includes Bing, Yahoo, AOL and media sites such as Wall Street Journal. 


Q. Do you differentiate strategies between search and display networks? 

A. Remarketing in paid search only shows in the Bing Network as a paid search ad, and is not a display product and does not show on display networks. 


Q. Are a lot of unrelated companies really sharing UET tags? I foresee some legal and privacy concerns and the potential for abuse. 

A. This was an example we heard of from two small companies in the same location, a similar industry but who did not directly compete. This is a strategy you’d have to do some research on to see if it’s viable for you. Larger companies with multiple brands will use this strategy to cross-sell and upsell. 


Q. What strategies are best for landing pages? 

A. While we are not landing page experts, we can direct you to two excellent resources: Bing Ads URL and Landing Page Policies and this article by Larry Kim of Wordstream. 


Q. Has remarketing for Shopping Campaigns fully rolled out to users? I have three audiences targeting at +100% bid that receive less than 10% of the list size in a 30-day period. Is this the volume of impressions I should expect at a +100% bid? 

A. Yes, Remarketing lists can be associated with Ad Groups set up for Bing Shopping Campaigns. Your expected volume will depend on the configuration of your Ad Groups and Remarketing lists, and therefore cannot be determined from the magnitude of your bid boosts alone. Be sure to test out different bid boosts in the experiment we outlined to find the best combination for you. 


Q. Should I remove my negative keywords lists for my remarketing? 

A. No. Your negative keywords list will continue to prevent your ad from showing on search terms that aren’t relevant. 


Q. I understand that you can specify a maximum number of days to target customers, but can you also specify a number of days to wait before targeting customers? 

A. No, this is not available currently. 


Q. UET doesn’t have to be through a tag management system, correct? 

A. Correct. You can use UET through Bing without a tag management system, but you can also use a tag management system with UET if you are additionally managing tags on other platforms such as Google or Facebook. 


Q. Why can’t we run the two ad group tests at the same time? 

A. Since both Ad Groups would have the same keywords, running the two test groups at the same time would simply result in cannibalization. That is, the Ad Group with the higher bid boost would always beat out the other, and you would therefore not have a fair comparison. By using day-of-week targeting to alternate the two Ad Groups, they will not be competing against one another, and what's more, you will be able to eliminate the confounding variable of day-of-week seasonality in your test. 


Q. When you say “memberships,” do you mean people who have signed up to receive exclusive information from your business? Or is it just users who have been on your website in the last 30 days? 

A. In the context of the webcast, “memberships” means people who have signed up to receive exclusive information. 


Q. How do you actually share those remarketing lists? How do you implement them? 

A. The first 15 minutes of the webcast covers that so check out the recording of the presentation. There is also a set up video on our Remarketing page. 


Q. How do Bing remarketing impressions compare to Google remarketing impressions? 

A. This question might be referring to either how the impressions look or how they perform. In terms of how they look, Remarketed impressions, like on RLSA, have no distinguishing features from normal ad impressions (read: no shining red buttons or whistles), but they can show customized ad copy if you're using the Target and Bid setting. In terms of how they perform, this will depend strongly on your unique campaign configuration and Remarketing list set-up. Once you've had some time to experiment with your Remarketing-enabled Ad Groups, let us know what you think about the performance! 


Q. Is OPA (Other People’s Audiences) the only thing that sets Bing remarketing apart from Google remarketing? 

A. Currently, one of the biggest differences between Bing Ads' Remarketing in Paid Search and Google's RLSA is the ability on Bing Ads to implement Remarketing lists at account-level rather than at customer-level. We are working on developing new Remarketing features as we speak in order to help provide an even better experience for you. 

Q. [In reference to PointIt’s results for Microsoft Store] Are the increases over AdWords compared to AdWords remarketing or pure search? 

A. Natalie was referring to the performance of remarketing campaigns when she compared the results of the AdWords to Bing Ads.  

Q. Can you explain how testing every other day helps to measure accurate results?  

A. Testing every other day allows you to alternate between the two Ad Groups so that they don't cannibalize each other's traffic, while also eliminating the effects of day-of-week seasonality. By running the experiment for 4+ weeks (making sure to swap day-of-week targeting settings at the end of each week), you will be able to have a fair comparison between the two bid boosts on the two different Ad Groups and see which gives you the best performance.  

What’s next? 

  • Date: May 31, 2016 | Time: 11am PST 

Please share your thoughts and comments below or go social with #AskBingAds. 


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