The eyes and ears of the PPC community may be on AdWords and Facebook ads, but behind the scenes, Microsoft has quietly turned into a billion-dollar advertising giant.
Revenue from Bing Ads rose by 15% in 2017 to $1.8bn, according to Microsoft’s latest annual report. The company has shipped tons of updates this year, including Audience Segmentation and Price Extensions. Yet, until last week, Bing advertisers kept wondering: When is Bing going to integrate LinkedIn data for campaign targeting? After Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn two years ago, it made perfect sense.
Finally, this data is available to all Bing advertisers! (For now, in the U.K., US, Canada, and Australia.) Microsoft announced its new Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN) last week at the Bing Partner Summit in Seattle. MSAN taps all Microsoft data sources (including LinkedIn data!) and leverages machine learning to target ads by consumer intent signals, such as search history, browsing history, page content, in addition to demographic data.
The Microsoft Audience Network may not offer as many placement and targeting options as the Google Display Network and Facebook Audience Network, but it does have a few unique features to entice PPC advertisers to try it out. Here are a few:
1. Rich context from the Microsoft Graph API
The Microsoft Audience Network is powered by the Microsoft Graph API, which connects data from all of the Microsoft’s applications, including Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, and LinkedIn profile data. Considering that 85% of Fortune 500 companies have their data in the Graph, that’s a lot of data on a highly coveted marketing segment of enterprise buyers.
2. Brand-safe placements
The MSAN promises extensive reach across MSN, Outlook, and Microsoft Edge (Microsoft’s browser). For marketers targeting a large and affluent audience of baby boomers, Microsoft’s offering is quite attractive. Microsoft also says they’re adding more syndicated partner sites, potentially extending target audience to different demographics.
3. Scale your Bing Ads campaigns
With Microsoft Audience Ads, you can now push your Bing campaigns out to the MSAN, broadening the reach (available in the U.K., US, Canada, and Australia) or build and run distinct native campaigns for separate budgets and optimization. Both ways are powered by the Microsoft Graph data and serve on the MSAN, increasing your reach outside of just the SERP.
According to the partner email from Bing Ads, the new native ads outperform traditional display advertising and have a greater CTR than the native ads industry average. The new solution also features better ad selection and relevancy matching, along with pricing, click and conversion matching, which, according to Microsoft, will help marketers “deliver terrifIc ROI.”
Getting started with Microsoft Audience Ads
Your Bing search ads are now automatically eligible to be transformed into Microsoft Audience Ads, so from now on, they’ll show up not just in search but across all Microsoft web and mobile properties.
To get started with Audience ads, simply select the “Prefer audience ad format” checkbox when you create a new ad or scale your existing search campaign by selecting the same checkbox in Settings.
Audience ad bid adjustments can be -100% to +900%. Applying an adjustment of -100% will opt out the campaign or ad group from Microsoft Audience Ads.
For better results, Bing recommends adding image extensions, which you can create from the Campaigns page and the “Ad Extensions” tab.