Microsoft Ads vs. Google Ads: Which Platform to Choose in 2024?

Author's avatar Marketing UPDATED Apr 9, 2024 PUBLISHED Jan 16, 2024 17 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Rethinking the best ways to reach your target audience in 2024?

    With many markets becoming overcrowded, staying front-of-mind for your ideal customers and keeping your marketing efforts affordable is super challenging. Paid ads are the go-to marketing channel for many industries as they generate excellent results, but what platform should you be using to optimize your costs and reach high-intent users?

    Microsoft Ads and Google Ads both have pros and cons, so we asked 45+ marketing professionals to share their experience with these advertising platforms.

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    Here’s an overview of this guide:

    What is the Difference between Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising?

    Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising are two of the most popular online advertising platforms, with distinct characteristics.

    Google Ads dominates the search engine market globally, primarily focusing on the Google Search Network, including Google Search and Maps. It appeals to a broad audience and supports various ad formats like text, display, video, shopping, and app promotion ads.

    On the other hand, Microsoft Advertising targets the Bing Search Network, which includes Bing search results and partner sites like Yahoo. While it has a smaller market share compared to Google, Microsoft Advertising can be a cost-effective option with potentially lower CPC. It often attracts an older demographic and users in specific industries.

    Both platforms offer similar ad formats, including various keyword match types and ad extensions to enhance visibility. Google Ads has a more extensive reach due to placements on YouTube and the Google Display Network, while Microsoft Advertising primarily focuses on search-related ad placements.

    The choice between the two depends on factors such as target audience, advertising goals, and budget considerations.

    Which Ad Platform is More Popular: Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising?

    We asked over 45 marketers to share their preferences in terms of Google Ads vs Microsoft Ads. Our respondents are from the following industries:

    • Marketing and Advertising (36.73%)
    • Professional Services (18.37%)
    • SaaS, Software or Technology (18.37%)
    • Other (26.52%)

    More than half of our respondents are founders or CEOs. As per company size, about 70% of respondents have under 50 employees.

    There’s no doubt Google Ads is the more popular advertising platform: our survey confirmed the assumption.

    No companies use Microsoft Ads only, almost half of the respondents said they run Google Ads, but not Microsoft Ads, while over 50% of survey participants rely on both ad platforms to help them achieve their marketing goals.

    Which Ad Platform is More Popular: Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising?

    Microsoft Ads or Google Ads: Which Platform Delivers More Value for Your Business?

    When it comes to the most important features in an ad platform, most of our respondents top-ranked:

    • Cost-Effectiveness
    • Overall ROI (Return on Investment)
    • Targeting Capabilities
    • Conversion Rates
    Microsoft Ads or Google Ads: Which Platform Delivers More Value for Your Business?
    FeatureGoogle AdsMicrosoft Advertising
    Cost-EffectivenessVariable, can be higher CPCPotentially lower CPC, often cost-effective
    Overall ROIHigh ROI due to extensive reachFavorable ROI, especially for specific demographics
    Targeting CapabilitiesWide range, diverse targeting optionsTargeting features with a focus on specific industries
    Conversion RatesHigh conversion rates, given the large user baseCompetitive conversion rates with targeted audience
    Analytics and ReportingRobust analytics and reporting toolsComprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities
    Ad Reach and Audience SizeSignificantly higher reach, broader audienceLimited reach, narrowed audience
    Ad Customization OptionsVarious customization optionsCustomization options to tailor ads to a specific audience
    Ease of UseUser-friendly interface and toolsIntuitive platform, easy to navigate
    Innovative Features & UpdatesFrequent updates and innovative featuresRegular updates, introducing new features over time
    Integration with Other ToolsSeamless integration with Google ecosystemIntegration with Microsoft tools and third-party platforms

    Let’s dive deeper into the features to see how they compare in each of the platforms.

    1. Cost-Effectiveness
    2. Overall ROI (Return on Investment)
    3. Targeting Capabilities
    4. Conversion Rates
    5. Analytics and Reporting
    6. Ad Reach and Audience Size
    7. Ad Customization Options
    8. Ease of Use
    9. Innovative Features and Updates
    10. Integration with Other Tools

    Cost-Effectiveness

    Although Google Ads have a wider reach, giving you more opportunities to get your ad in front of your target audience, Microsoft Ads can turn out to be more cost-effective for narrower audiences and specific industries because of lower competition. Still, our survey participants ranked Google Ads as better, even when it comes to cost-effectiveness.

    That doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft Ads can be an excellent, more affordable advertising alternative for businesses that aren’t using Google Ads or have specific audience requirements.

    “Microsoft Ads gets often overlooked, while it offers significant advantages, particularly in terms of cost-effectiveness and reaching certain demographics that might be less present on Google,” says Waleria Pagowska of Brand24. “I would like to point out its integration with LinkedIn, which provides a unique edge, especially for B2B businesses. The lower competition on Microsoft Ads often results in a lower cost per click, making it an attractive option for businesses with tighter advertising budgets.”

    “Microsoft Ads, while smaller in scale, provides a cost-effective way to target specific niches, which can be incredibly beneficial for focused marketing campaigns,” concludes Pagowska.

    Expert Insights: There are some proven tactics to optimize Google Ads CPC, from using different landing pages and adjusting bids beyond keywords (location, device, schedule) to using ad extensions and different match types. We have surveyed 40+ experts, and they share their insights into lowering and optimizing Google Ads CPC.

    Overall ROI (Return on Investment)

    Marketers mostly agree that Google Ads bring a higher ROI than Microsoft Ads, thanks to its reach and visibility.

    However, it often depends on the industry—if you’re targeting specific audiences that spend more time using Bing than Google, you’ll be able to leverage low competition and ad costs to generate a better return on investment.

    “We deliver advertising on behalf of our health care clinic owners’ customers, in an agency model. We find that Microsoft Ads often deliver a superior ROI in some cases – if the customer is targeting an ideal patient aged 50+. We usually test Microsoft Ads at 10-20% of the overall ad budget to assess how the metrics compare to Google Ads,” Scott MacIntosh of Second Spring Digital Inc. comments.

    Targeting Capabilities

    Both Microsoft Ads and Google Ads allow users to target specific keywords and audiences based on location, gender, age, device, etc. But, each platform has its advantages for specific purposes.

    For example, Google Ads may be more suitable for businesses with global audiences, since Google dominates the market and has a broader reach. The amount of traffic you may receive, especially when you leverage Google’s sophisticated targeting options, can contribute to a better ROI and lower advertising costs.

    “Tapping the huge traffic volumes offered by Google Ads can’t be compared with Microsoft Ads distribution networks. More traffic combined with Google targeting options generates lower cost per conversion,” says Adam Ostapinski from UnAgency.

    On the other hand, Microsoft Ads “have some clever features” that can help you “refine your target audiences and create more targeted campaigns,” according to Hannah Lydford of Headley Media. One of these features is certainly the integration with LinkedIn, allowing you to target users based on their profile on this social media platform, and making Microsoft Ads a great choice for B2B marketers.

    Conversion Rates

    While Microsoft Ads may be cost-effective for advertisers, Google Ads boast a higher conversion rate than ads run on Bing (3.75% and 2.94%, respectively).

    Also, the amount of traffic your ads will receive on this platform is significantly lower than when running Google Ads. This can lead to you potentially paying more per conversion when using Microsoft Ads, so a high conversion rate may not always mean a good ROI.

    However, your conversion rate will still depend on your industry and target audience. Ronald Dsouza of Book Marketeers shares his experience with the e-commerce and book publishing sectors.

    “In my previous role in an e-commerce business, Google dominated with a staggering 90% of conversions, primarily due to its vast user base, making it conducive for selling products in bulk,” says Dsouza.

    “However, when working with a niche service such as book publishing in my current position, we observed a distinct advantage on Bing. For businesses like ours, catering to a specific audience, Bing proved to be more effective in generating conversions.”

    Expert Insights: It’s difficult to define what a good conversion rate for Google ads is as it can depend on many factors: your industry, campaign goals, time of the year, and more. We asked several marketing experts to share what they consider a good conversion rate—you’ll see how their answers vary depending on their experience, type of business, and more. However, based on our survey, most participants are happy with their conversion rates.

    Analytics and Reporting

    Google Ads offers robust analytics features that allow you to optimize your campaigns to the very last detail.

    Pagowska chooses Google Ads as her preferred tool because “its integration with Google Analytics and advanced targeting options, including search behaviors and demographics, make it a powerful tool for businesses looking to make data-driven decisions and reach a diverse audience.”

    Microsoft Ads are limited in terms of reporting and analytics, even though they offer some useful metrics and can represent a less demanding learning curve for beginners.

    Expert insights: You can track your Microsoft advertising efforts in real time using Databox’s free Microsoft Advertising Overview Dashboard that features Impressions, Clicks, Ad performance, and more.

    Microsoft Advertising Overview Dashboard

    Ad Reach and Audience Size

    As Google has a significantly higher market share, it allows you to reach wider audiences, and more people are bound to see your ad on a global level thanks to both Search Network and Display Network Ads—across all industries.

    Google Ads proved invaluable to our music instruction business, providing unparalleled reach and precise targeting. Its dominance in online searches provided us with maximum visibility, connecting us with a diverse audience actively looking for guitar, ukulele, and charango lessons,” shares Kristi Dawn of Musicfinch.

    With Microsoft Advertising, you’re likely to reach a limited number of people, but if you’re targeting Bing users or the older demographic, you may have an easier job standing out among competitors.

    “The main benefit that companies gain from using Microsoft Ads in their advertising efforts is access to a unique audience that may not be as heavily targeted as those on Google,” explains Tarlia Smedley of Pulse Recruitment.

    “Microsoft Ads reach users across the Bing and Yahoo networks, which includes a significant demographic that prefers these search engines over Google. This audience often comprises older and more affluent users, which can be particularly valuable for certain businesses and industries.”

    Still, it seems that Google is unmatched for marketers, at least when it comes to the number of people you can reach.

    “While Microsoft Ads has merits, Google’s sheer market share and sophisticated ad delivery mechanisms make it our primary driver for reaching and converting our audience. As we navigate the competitive landscape, Google Ads remains our go-to platform for maximizing visibility, engagement, and ultimately, business growth,” confirms Daniel Li of Plus.

    Ad Customization Options

    Google Ads offer comprehensive customization options for your ads, allowing you to target every segment of your audience with huge precision, which can lead to higher conversion rates.

    However, while you can have custom intent when creating Google Ads, Microsoft Ads allows the creation of custom audiences, especially based on users’ LinkedIn profiles (industry, job title, etc.) This is an incredible advantage for B2B marketing.

    “Microsoft Ads, for example, allows advertisers to target users based on job function, industry, and organization, exploiting the professional context provided by LinkedIn data,” Jeremy Mauboussin of Plagia Shield agrees.

    “This is especially useful for B2B marketing tactics because it provides a more focused way to reach business professionals. The synergy with Microsoft’s broader ecosystem improves ad targeting precision and specificity, giving businesses unprecedented chances to customize their messaging for a professional audience.”

    Ease of Use

    While some marketers praise Microsoft Ads’ softer learning curve, others are already familiar with Google’s other tools, so they find Google Ads easier to use.

    That’s the case for Suzanne Bucknam of Connecticut Explorer.

    “For what we do in my company, the best advertising platform for us is Google Ads because it’s simple, it’s tailored, and it’s effective. While I don’t mean to throw Microsoft under the bus, in my experience I have just found that Google is more in touch with the advertising needs of smaller business owners,” says Bucknam.

    “Google is likely used more by smaller organizations because it has a simple yet effective suite of applications. There’s no need to pay for an enterprise pack, no need to make an entire 360, Outlook, and Office account. You just have one Gmail tied to the account and others can easily access it. This ease translates into their advertising branch. It’s clean, simple, and insightful. You can customize to your heart’s content with or without applying the insights Google gives you, but they always have something new to offer to help you build your reach,” concludes Connecticut Explorer’s Suzanne Bucknam.

    Innovative Features and Updates

    Both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising are highly innovative platforms, and both continuously introduce updates to enhance their features and functionality. However, there are some differences in terms of innovation and update frequency.

    Google Ads is known for its constant innovation and introduction of new features. It often leads the way in developing cutting-edge advertising technologies and rolling out updates and new features regularly. The platform’s expansive user base drive a frequent release of improvements and innovations.

    Microsoft Advertising is also innovative, focusing on providing advertisers with effective tools and features, such as ad extensions, that can positively impact your ad CTR. While it may not always be the first to introduce certain features, it strives to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of advertisers.

    Integration with Other Tools

    Both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads have comprehensive integrations, each with its corresponding ecosystems. Which one will provide more value to your business depends on your current toolkit.

    “Google Ads has brought a lot of value to our business; this is primarily due to the fact that Google Ads offers easier integration with many of the other tools and platforms we use, increasing our overall marketing effectiveness,” Eugene Koplyk of Wiserbrand shares his thoughts on Google Ads.

    On the other hand, Jeremy Mauboussin has experience with Microsoft Ads.

    “The integration with Microsoft’s ecosystem, which includes Windows, Office, and LinkedIn, is a noteworthy benefit that businesses can receive from using Microsoft Ads. Advertisers may now take advantage of key demographic and professional targeting options thanks to this connection,” says Mauboussin.

    And what about CPC and CTR?

    Take a look at the table below to also see the median values for Average CPC and CTR for both platforms based on the data from Databox Benchmark Groups.

    MetricGoogle AdsMicrosoft Ads
    Average CPC$1.33$0.97
    CTR4.31%2.14%

    According to data provided by Google Ads Benchmarks for All Companies, the median value of Average CPC in November 2023 was $1.33.

    median value of Average CPC

    When it comes to CTR, our data showed that it had a median value of 4.31% across various industries in November 2023.

    CTR benchmark across industries

    Numbers are slightly lower when it comes to Microsoft Ads: based on the data provided by Microsoft Advertising Benchmarks for All Companies, the median value of Average CPC in November 2023 was $0.97.

    Microsoft Advertising CPC

    In November 2023, Microsoft Ads users recorded a median CTR of 2.14% across industries.

    Microsoft Advertising CTR

    If you’re interested in comparing your performance to companies similar to yours and leveraging valuable data to position your business in front of your prospective customers, join our Benchmark Groups today—it’s free of charge and completely anonymous.

    Common Challenges Marketers Experience with Microsoft Ads and Google Ads

    While there are many benefits that can help one of the platforms in the Microsoft Advertising vs. Google ads battle, there are also several challenges marketers face when running ads.

    Common Challenges Marketers Experience with Microsoft Ads and Google Ads

    Most of our survey respondents stated that they’ve experienced the following issues when running Google ads:

    • High advertising costs (71.43%)
    • Complexity in platform navigation (64.29%)
    • Poor customer support (53.33%)

    When running Microsoft Ads, our survey participants faced the following problems:

    • Difficulty in targeting the right audience (83.87%)
    • Limited ad customization options (77.42%)
    • Inaccurate or insufficient analytics (76.67%)
    • Poor customer support (66.67%)
    • Complexity in platform navigation (53.57%)

    Final Verdict on Microsoft Ads vs. Google Ads

    According to our respondents, Google Ads were ranked as better than Microsoft Ads in all segments, including cost-effectiveness.

    Final Verdict on Microsoft Ads vs. Google A

    This consensus could be attributed to Google Ads’ extensive reach, dominant global market share, and continuous innovation in digital advertising. The larger user base on Google Ads, encompassing platforms like Google Search, Maps, and YouTube, offers advertisers unparalleled access to a diverse audience, contributing to the perceived effectiveness of campaigns.

    While this feedback proves Google Ads’ popularity, individual preferences and campaign goals may require a nuanced decision.

    Advertisers should assess their specific needs, target demographics, and campaign strategies to determine whether Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising aligns more closely with their unique objectives. Both platforms offer distinct advantages, and the choice between them should be based on a careful evaluation of factors such as audience reach, innovation, and competition.

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    Stay on Top of Your Ad Campaign’s Performance with Databox

    As Ronald Dsouza of Book Marketeers puts it, “the takeaway is clear: the choice between Google and Bing hinges on the unique characteristics of your product or service and the target audience you aim to reach.”

    Regardless of which platform you choose to run your campaigns on (or even if you choose both), Databox has got you covered.

    We simplify business analytics by providing access to in-depth, real-time data about your performance, automated, streamlined reports, customizable dashboards, and much more.

    You can easily connect over 100 of your favorite tools through simple, one-click integrations and set up alerts for metrics and goals that matter to you, so you can react timely whenever you’re off track or have an opportunity to seize.

    Instead of wasting precious hours on building complex reports and loggin in and out of platforms to get the data, tracking your performance in a bunch of spreadsheets, and waiting until the end of a campaign to see what you could have done better, you can make data-driven decisions faster and easier.

    Access time-saving dashboard templates, automate your performance reporting, and visualize your progress in one screen with Databox—sign up for your free account today and take your performance monitoring and reporting to the next level.

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    Article by
    Stefana Zaric

    Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.

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