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Bing Moves to Show Product Ads on Mobile, Impact Likely Limited for Advertisers

Amidst a handful of updates to the Product Ads format, Bing announced last week that they would begin showing Product Ads on mobile Bing searches.

This couldn’t come at a better time for advertisers looking to get more out of the already quickly growing Product Ad format during the holidays. However, we expect the overall impact to be slight at first for a few reasons.

First, let’s recap the rise of the Bing Product Ads format since its inception in 2013.

Product Ad Traffic Share Set to Continue Growing

In our latest Q3 Digital Marketing Report (DMR), we reported on the rapid rise of Bing Product Ads, which accounted for 14% of all Bing Ads paid search clicks in Q3 and 25% of non-brand.

This rise represents an incredible 332% year-over-year increase in clicks for Q3, and the format has been a major part of the click growth we’ve observed for Bing Ads non-brand in 2015.

That growth slipped a bit in Q3 compared to the first half of the year, but mobile Product Ads may help to push click growth back up, particularly if the strength of PLAs on mobile devices for Google is any indicator of expected traffic share.

Google PLAs have grown significantly across all devices over the past few years, and accounted for 60% of all non-brand traffic in Q3 according to our DMR. However, that share is even stronger on phones, with 68% of all non-brand traffic coming from PLAs for the median client in Q3.

As such, it’s exciting to see Bing expand their own Product Ad format to mobile devices.

However, there’s good reason to believe it won’t be quite as big for Bing Ads on the whole as mobile PLAs are for Google.

Limitations to be Aware Of

It’s important to note that Bing has a much smaller ‘natural’ share of traffic coming from mobile devices than does Google, as Bing’s share of organic search coming from mobile stood at just 28% in Q3, compared to 47% for Google.

This is largely a result of:

1) The tendencies of Bing users (who tend to be older and search on mobile devices less)

2) Google is the default search engine for the Safari browser on iOS devices (which accounted for 31% of all organic search traffic in Q3 according to our DMR) as well as for default Android browsers (12% of all organic traffic in Q3)

Thus, the overall impact of adding Product Ads to Bing’s mobile search stands to be slight, as there just aren’t that many Bing searches occurring on mobile devices.

Further, the announcement also specifically states that it will be rolled out to Bing mobile, which makes it sound like Product Ads won’t be shown on Yahoo mobile searches. If Bing’s mobile Product Ads aren’t rolled out to Yahoo at all, this will only further limit their potential for advertisers.

Conclusion

This seems like a no-brainer move for Bing to upgrade their mobile search results by showing image-based ads that clearly appeal to users and provide great performance for advertisers.

While the overall impact for advertisers may be limited by Bing’s limited mobile reach, the growth of Bing Product Ads in general over the past few quarters is enough to inspire a bit of excitement that the format will drive some incremental value for advertisers as it gets rolled out on mobile devices.

Thus, retailers should certainly be looking to take advantage as much as possible this holiday season.

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