Any search marketer who has been in the “game” for 10+ years will tell you that after a while, you develop a personal skill set for a specific vertical.
Whether it is travel, QSR, ecommerce or finance, eventually it happens.
Mine is (regardless of whether I like it) healthcare and pharmaceutical.
For some reason, I just love dealing with government red tape and FDA compliance.
Because of this, I have become a huge advocate for Bing Ads (yes, I know it is now called Microsoft Advertising, but I lack the energy to call it by its non-consumer facing side).
Bing is the not-so-secret weapon in healthcare paid search.
To answer the question, you will likely ask: No, Bing search volume will not overtake Google, so don’t think you need to go and cut it.
It’s long been theorized by industry insiders that Bing has a sweet spot in select verticals, but there is little documentation to support it.
Bing & Healthcare?
Based on demographics and behavior data for the healthcare search vertical, Bing typically has a more self-qualifying audience than most search marketers realize which leads to more efficient traffic.
They often are a desktop heavy user as well as being older.
The belief is that as a person focuses more on their personal health (aside from the “do I have the flu query”), they rely more on their desktop.
When it comes to PC, with the search integration in Windows, Bing wins out – as opposed to a younger demographic, which is more apt to research solely on their mobile device (advantage Google).
We compared seven healthcare-related brands’ search performance in Bing vs. that of Google and found that Bing supplies higher CTRs 41% of the time and lower CPCs 71% of the time.
Post click conversion rate (leads) was higher than Google in just 43% of the data.
However, in the data examined, all but one instance showed Bing had the better CPC and/or CVR, leading an average of a 38% more efficient Cost Per Lead for Bing.
Healthcare Brand Data
Pharmaceutical Brand #1
A medication designed to handle the adverse effects of an allergic reaction.
- Target consumer: Children under age 18.
- Target audience: Parents aged 25-45 or caregivers of children with life-threatening allergies.
Pharmaceutical Brand #2
A medication used to reverse the signs of an overdose.
- Target consumer: Those who are new to any opioid usage or habitually use.
- Target audience: Opioid users and their loved ones or caregivers.
Medical Facility Network
A network of specialized medical facilities in the Midwest.
Target audience and consumer: People aged 35+ and is in need of specific medical care.
Specialized Medical Centers #1
A regional chain of specialized medical centers focusing on vision and hearing.
- Target consumer: Typically those 35+ years old dealing with vision or hearing issues.
- Target audience: Those 35+ dealing with vision or hearing issues as well as their loved ones.
Specialized Medical Centers #2
A regional chain of specialized medical centers focusing on psychiatric and psychological conditions.
- Target consumer: Varies by condition, but ages range from 16 to 45.
- Target audience: Typically parents and loved ones aged 35+.
Chain of Senior Living Communities
A national chain of assisted and independent living communities for seniors.
- Target consumer: 65+ years in age and are no longer able to live independently in a traditional home setting.
- Target audience: Seniors 65+ and their adult children or caregivers.
Medical Device Brand
A national chain of clinics providing a medical test and selling a device to aid in an impairment.
- Target consumer: Aged 55+ and is losing a function of a specific sense, and needs a device to aid them.
- Target audience: Aged 35+, covering both the loved ones and the potential consumer.
We opted into the Google search network in all seven scenarios, but the traffic made up for less than 30% of its traffic.
Bing was only opted into owned and operated platforms.
The engines’ leads were tracked through website forms to fill out.
Google is often typically given credit for website call leads, something Bing cannot track and which leaves them likely under-reporting the true lead total.
We observed that Bing’s performance peaks between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, indicating that some of the research is being done at/during work.
On the other hand, Google’s was more spread out throughout the day.
Why Do Patients Love Bing?
Understanding why Bing is the better performer appears to be connected to device usage.
This is reinforced by the typical age of the user.
The initial stage searches may be performed on a mobile device, as the patient scenario progresses, we see the search experience become more focused and shift to the desktops.
This is often not someone in the awareness phase of the “patient journey” but someone in the treatment phase, an indication of more mature and refined queries.
This leads to them more likely to be prepared to convert (to compare this to an ecommerce scenario, think of this as the bottom of the funnel non-brand keyword equivalency).
We have theorized that:
- The younger searcher is more likely to continue the entire process on a mobile device (an advantage to Google).
- The older searcher is more apt to switch to desktop or to continue on desktop (no real advantage here to either engine).
Keep in mind that in Bing, a higher quality score does not equate to a lower CPC (unlike Google).
When it comes to healthcare search, desktop is king for the advanced stage search query. So, if your search engine is desktop majority traffic, then you are more likely to get a better return from the scenario.
The goal should be to bid as low as possible, while still be on the top of the first page on non-brand keywords.
Bing often seems to be able to get one metric or the other in their favor just enough to make it more efficient for healthcare. This may not be the soundest reasoning for adjusting one’s budget strategy.
That said, there is a sufficient amount of evidence that in the healthcare vertical, especially if your audience and consumer skews older, funding Bing first (instead of Google) will drive more efficient post-click production for your brand.
In-Post Image: Microsoft Advertising
All screenshots taken by author, March 2020