Unless you’ve been living under a rock or haven’t touched a computer at all for two years, you would know by now that Microsoft has rebranded their MSN search engine to a product called Bing. It’s the company’s answer to Google, the search giant that owns a large part of the market share and which continues to lead over Bing, Yahoo, and its other search competitors.

Microsoft has shown, however, that it is willing to invest and make Bing a better search product for its users. It has also spent a huge amount of money in heavy marketing spending in order to gain a bit of Google’s portion of the search space – a move that has helped Bing consistently inch upward every month. While comScore recently reported that Google still has 64.4 percent share of core searches, Bing continued to gain in April 2010 and upped its search share to 11.8 percent.

Which leads to the question: should search advertisers start rethinking their strategies and give Bing a try?

If you’re a small business, an Internet marketer, or a PPC (pay-per-click) advertiser, chances are you’re using Google’s AdWords online advertising program. Chances are that you’ve also made the cost-effective decision to manage a PPC campaign that’s focused on a single search engine.

With Bing on the rise, however, it might be high time to give Bing – and its advertising program, the Microsoft adCenter – a try. Sure, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to opt for the number two or number three search engine, but reallocating your advertising spending from Google to Bing can make, in more ways than one, perfect economic sense.

Bing has a simple, user-friendly, and gorgeous design

Unlike the cluttered Yahoo search page or the plain-looking Google search, Bing has a clean and simple design, with a search box made more prominent because of the homepage’s selection of great background images. This aesthetic advantage pleases more than the eye, especially since simplicity is important in search. Online advertisers can leverage Bing’s gorgeous visuals and pleasing search experience to reach consumers and catch their attention a lot more easily.

Less competition, cheaper ads

Bing only has 11 to 12 percent search share – but don’t let that throw you off. It’s still 11 to 12 percent of billions of searches every month. It’s still an audience of 82 million monthly users. Moreover, since Bing has so far been shunned by countless PPC advertisers and small business marketers, you’d have less competition than if you advertised on Google. This also means that PPC ads on Bing are going to be generally cheaper than Google AdWords placements – and that you can spend less money to rank higher in Bing search results.

Bing is e-Commerce- and shopping-friendly

It’s safe to say that more than a few Bing users are using the search engine because Microsoft has preloaded it in their computers as the default search engine. But this doesn’t nullify the fact that Bing has been designed in a way that makes online shopping and e-Commerce so easy. Most of the relevant search results that you’ll see when you enter a query on Google also show up on Bing. Bing Shopping has also been laid out pretty nicely, and with cashback incentives for advertisers in both Bing Search and Bing Shopping, you can say that Bing fares a bit better than Google in pulling in online shoppers, not just information searchers. This presents a great opportunity to achieve higher CTR (click-through rates) and better conversion.

The task of targeting consumers is also convenient enough using Bing – more convenient, actually, than it is using Google AdWords, which currently doesn’t have the same option as does Bing. PPC advertisers on Bing actually have the luxury to boost their cost-per-click bids for customers with an option to target users of a specific age range or gender. Where does this information come from? From the Windows Live profiles of Bing users who browse the Web while signed in to their accounts.

Microsoft is determined to improve Bing

Microsoft recently announced that 5 to 10 percent of its operating income – which is about $11 billion – will be invested in the next five years to improve its search products. That should be more than enough reason to at least give Bing a try. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, Bing and Yahoo are joining forces to create more innovation in search, wider user and consumer reach, and better value for advertisers. Microsoft may have underachieved in the past, but these Bing-related developments show that the company is determined to get it right.

BONUS TIP: If you think advertising on Bing is worth a try, make sure you start out with small scale tests to see how your ads fare compared to when they’re placed on Google. Don’t roll out your whole advertising campaign just yet – and don’t reallocate all your advertising dollars from AdWords to adCenter in one go. Study your clicks and conversions on Bing, and use that information to make the smartest, most informed decision.