July 21, 2011, 9:45 AM

Retailers are ready to increase their Bing spending

An Internet Retailer survey finds 41% of merchants plan to shift their search spending.

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Bing is making inroads into retailers’ search marketing budgets as 41% of merchants plan to divert at least some of their spending from Google Inc. to the two-year-old search engine operated by Microsoft Corp., according to the newest Internet Retailer survey.

New technology that makes it easier for marketers to shift their search campaigns to Bing is contributing to that shift, search experts say.That technology includes automated keyword software that vendors sell to retailers. Pet supplies retailer Drs. Foster & Smith, for instance, uses such technology to avoid manual coding in spreadsheets when tweaking a paid search campaign originally created for Google but now being fashioned for Bing, says Matt Stelter, the retailer’s assistant manager of Internet marketing.

However, that doesn’t mean that Bing is about to usurp Google’s position as the king of search marketing. 66% of respondents said Google yields higher conversion rates than Bing.

The survey found that both Google and Bing appear poised to command an even greater share of retail marketing budgets this year, with 53% of respondents saying they are devoting more of their dollars to search engine marketing this year than in 2010.

More than 34% of respondents said that more than 25% of their site traffic stemmed from paid search. And 33% said that the percentage of traffic coming from paid search is up from last year.

The survey found that 49% of respondents are increasing their spend on pay-per-click advertising this year. Most retailer marketers—68%—are paying at least 26 cents per click, on average; about 13% are paying between 26 and 40 cents; 11% between 41 and 50 cents; 18% between 51 and 75 cents; 11% between 76 cents and $1; and 16% more than $1.

The survey is based on responses from 98 different, 58% of whom are web-only merchants, with the rest chain retailers, catalogers and consumer brand manufacturers.

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