SEMPO Session Recap: Search Data Insights Powered by Bing Ads Research

Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of data and insights? You’re not alone. Marketers today are confronted with mountains of information and struggle with turning all of that data into results that matter. Catalyst, Bing, and SEMPO joined forces in November to host a breakfast event that addressed this very challenge. In case you missed it, we’ve put together a recap from Bing’s session and have provided our own pointers for using data to drive your search strategy and data.

Let’s dig into Bing’s presentation first. Itir Aloba-Curi, Director of Advertiser Analytics & Insights at Microsoft, and Angela Bahreyni, Search Insights Manager at Microsoft, presented Bing’s latest consumer journey research, which provide helpful tips and examples of how data should be analyzed to fuel the optimization process.

Bing Study

Should brands purchase their own brand terms in paid search?

“Should we bid on our own brand terms?” Search professionals and brand marketers frequently grapple with this question. One could argue that brands should not be paying to appear in the paid search results when it holds the top organic listings. However, during Catalyst’s SEMPO breakfast event, the Bing insights and analytics team shared a compelling study on why brands should claim their presence in paid search, even on their branded terms.

Here is a quick summary of the study:

  • Collected 50 million impressions over a 3-month span
  • Focused on the finance, retail, and travel verticals
  • 2 control groups:
    • No brand ad on the page (Organic Only, top)
    • Brand ads appearing at the top of search results (Brand Ad + Organic, bottom)

Bing’s study revealed that brands who purchased their brand terms in paid search gained incremental traffic and left fewer clicks to be stolen by their competitors (referenced in the graph below).

Bing Study

In the finance vertical specifically, paid search delivered a 23% increase in incremental clicks from brand ads.

Bing Study

There were similar trends across the other verticals Bing researched, with retail and travel showing higher competition within the paid search space:

Bing Study

This situation varies by brand, vertical, and specific keywords (short vs. long tail branded terms), but closely examining your analytics is key to making an informed decision as to whether you should purchase branded keywords or not. If you don’t have data access to help you draw such insights, then reach out to your vendor to request assistance. Bing has an analytics and insights group that develops and delivers insights to compel action, so don’t be shy! And if you do have access to front and backend data, then take the time to A/B test and analyze the results to make the best decision for your bottom line.

What is the role that search plays in the consumer decision journey?

Bing also presented research on how search plays a role into the consumer journey of planning a vacation.

The study was done on:

  • 1000 US users
  • Travel relevant domains –,,,, etc.
  • Keywords: hotel, flight, resort, etc.
  • User action filters: hotel review, flight search, etc.

The analytics team detected that 1) it took the average user 37 days to make a purchase decision, 2) the average user visits 5 online travel agents (OTA), and 3) search plays an active role throughout the consumer journey.

Bing Study

This type of research requires significant resources and a ton of cookie data, but it is a great example of how data trends can influence your buying powers as well as ad copy and keyword optimizations.  Let’s examine a few specific examples of how you can leverage data to influence your optimization process. (These examples relate to Bing’s research topics, but still highlight the importance and opportunity for tying data to optimizations across various verticals and channels.

  1. Bing’s research showed that the average user takes up to 37 days to commit to purchasing a vacation package/flight/hotel. This suggests that you may need to tweak the budget allocation of your remarketing campaigns. For example, if you have a list of users who have visited a specific page on your website during the last 30 days, you may consider heavying up your investment during the last 5 days of their research journey, when users will be closest to making a decision.
  2. According to Bing’s research, the average user visits 5 OTAs. Regardless of if you are a OTA or a hotel/airline, you can always boost your conquesting campaign to capture the user in the research phase and lure them in with a discount and customized ad creative tailored to a specific audience segment.
  3. Analyze your keyword data and analytics to understand the role of search, as well as other channels, in the consumer decision process. Multi-channel reporting is a great way to understand which traffic sources sent consumers to your site within the awareness or consideration stage. It also helps you understand how channels work together in generating conversions. Within multi-channel reporting you can also explore other dimensions, such as but not limited to:a. Keywords that initiate a sale and those that helped convert
    b. First and last interactions
    c. Assist interactions

You can also examine each goal individually to see which conversions take longer than others, or their path-length or specific channel.

Bing Study

To reiterate (also, my mantra):

Always base strategy and optimization decisions on data and research to minimize errors. Data insights will also help you craft a cutting-edge strategy and a personalized approach to targeting various audience segments.

You can find Bing’s full presentation from the SEMPO breakfast event below:


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