Microsoft Follows Suit Offering Free Product Shopping Listings

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would offer free product placements to merchants within their Bing Shopping tab.

These free listings are now available within the United States. In addition, the free shopping placements will expand to the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany and Australia.

To be eligible for product listings to appear, merchants need to submit and have their products approved within the Microsoft Merchant Center. Whether running free or paid placements, merchants will need to first submit the products they wish to appear into their Microsoft Merchant Center account.

For those advertisers already using Bing Ads with active product product listings, there is nothing new that they need to do to be eligible for free traffic. All eligible products will automatically be opted in to showing within the free product listings section on the Bing Shopping tab effective immediately.

There is an option for retailers to opt out of serving in the free traffic section, but why would you want to turn down free traffic?

And although reporting on free traffic is not currently available, Microsoft’s announcement touted that reporting will soon become available this fall.

Below is an image of displaying how the free vs. paid placement will appear within the Bing Shopping tab.

Why Should You Care?

Microsoft/Bing in normal times accounts for about 10% of all traffic. However, currently they account for approximately 33% of all desktop traffic. Due to COVID, more people are spending more time at home and this has translated into more time on their desktops.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article – Microsoft/Bing Ads – A Surge In Profitability that details why advertising using Bing is an effective strategy for retailers.

During the early stages of COVID, Bing Ads had only a 5% decline in traffic which was significantly lower than Google. In addition, some of my private clients were seeing ROAS tripling Google.

Oh, and even if Bing sometime returns to only accounting 10% of all traffic, you know what 10% of FREE is?

It is FREE!!!

Easiest Way to Implement

If you are currently running Shopping ads using Microsoft/Bing ads, there is no action to be taken.

However, if you do not currently run ads then you will need to open a Microsoft/Bing Ads account and a Microsoft Merchant Center account.

If you are not familiar with Microsoft/Bing, both these accounts work very similar to the corresponding Google Ads and Google Merchant Center accounts in terms of both setup and properly maintaining.

In fact, if you are currently running ads using Google Shopping, then opting into the new free listings on Bing Shopping will be extremely quick to setup.

Advertisers even have the option to copy products directly from Google Merchant Center to the Bing Merchant Center and configure the data to have future sends scheduled automatically. This will ensure that all data remains in sync based on your Google Merchant Center.

Once you have items imported into Microsoft Merchant Center, if you would like to start using paid traffic as well, you easily can. Bing Ads also will give you the option within your account to import campaigns including bidding, negative keywords and other settings directly from Google Ads.

Why Did Bing Decide To Offer Free Shopping Placements?

When it comes to the why the free listings are now be offered is up to debate. There are a couple of differing opinions:

On their official announcement, Microsoft touted the reason as ‘looking for ways to help their retail partners take advantage of the recent and rapid shift of retail shopping from in-store to online’.

However, if you wanted to be a bit more cynical, you may say that the reason was:

Either first, following suit to what Google did earlier this year in offering free shopping placements inside Google Shopping – read the details here – It’s Back To The Future With Google’s Free Shopping Ads.

Or second, and maybe more accurately, that by giving new advertisers free placements that this will likely increase the number of paid advertisers using Microsoft/Bing.

In order to receive free shopping placement, a retailer must open a Microsoft/Bing Account and a Microsoft Merchant Center and submit products to the Microsoft Merchant Center.

Once products are approved, the only thing holding back merchants from starting to receive paid traffic is entering their credit card!

Final Word

Regardless of their motives, this is an exciting announcement from Microsoft/Bing.

By offering free shopping placements, merchants can increase their exposure through the Microsoft Network with no out of pocket expense.

In addition, especially since COVID, results for most of my private clients using Microsoft/Bing ads has been very good with profitability for most higher than Google Ads.

By exposing new advertisers to this often-forgotten marketing channel, Bing Ads will increase product offerings for shoppers (which is good for shoppers) while providing businesses of all sizes something we all want – Free Quality Traffic.

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Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.