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Microsoft is improving its ad platform. Here’s why brands should give it a shot in 2023

ICYMI, Microsoft has ambitious plans: to double the size of its ad business to $20 billion.

So why is this big news? Google and Meta are showing signs of fading, making more room for emerging platforms like TikTok, Amazon and Instacart.

Wait, what about Microsoft Ads?

Microsoft’s search and news advertising revenues have consistently grown over the last four quarters (Q2: 32%; Q3: 18%; Q4: 15%; Q1: 16%).

One advantage of Microsoft Ads is its cost-effectiveness. It’s typically cheaper than Google Ads and offers more opportunities to target specific audiences with relevant ads at a lower cost per click.

Additionally, Microsoft Ads provides detailed analytics that are easy to interpret, making it easier to track ROI and refine campaigns over time.

On the other hand, Microsoft still falls miles behind Google in terms of users. Google typically sits around 83.84% share of the global search market (fallen from 89.95% in the past three years); during the same timeframe, Bing’s share has risen from 3.99% to 8.88%.

But what do other advertisers think?

I asked Christine Askew of Workshop Digital (and 2022 winner of Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative) and Timothy Jensen of M&T Bank (and SMX Next panelist on 2023 PPC trends to get ahead of), their thoughts on why more brands should be giving Microsoft Ads a fair shot. 

Why is having competition for Google search a good thing? Why should search marketers root for competitors like Microsoft Ads?

Having competition for Google search encourages companies to innovate, invest in better search technologies, and create better user experiences.

Competition also keeps prices down and helps to ensure that no one search engine has too much market share or power.

By creating a more competitive market, search marketers can benefit from better search options and more competitive pricing.

Additionally, competition helps to ensure that search results remain unbiased and free from manipulation.

Ultimately, competition is a healthy thing for the search industry and helps to ensure a better experience for users.

How has Microsoft improved their Ads dashboard, features, and product offerings?

Microsoft has introduced a unified interface that allows for better cross-platform optimization and insights. They have also included more detailed reporting, data visualization, and new automated campaign management tools.

Additionally, Microsoft has launched new features such as audience insights and automated bidding strategies to help users better target their campaigns.

Finally, Microsoft has improved its product offerings to include more comprehensive features, such as the ability to manage multiple campaigns from a single dashboard and the ability to optimize campaigns for different devices.

Here are just a few of the latest products and features released by Microsoft:

When will Microsoft Ads get respect? 

Microsoft has been playing the long game – for a long, long time now. And Microsoft has an equally long history of mistakes and missed opportunities going back over a decade.

Microsoft Ads has been slow to gain respect from search marketers. But Microsoft has continued to improve its platform (e.g., the introduction of a unified interface, more detailed reporting).

Additionally, search marketers are starting to recognize the value of Microsoft Ads, such as its ability to target campaigns across multiple platforms and its automated bidding strategies.

As more search marketers become aware of Microsoft Ads and its benefits, it is likely that it will gain more respect in the industry.

What should Microsoft do to compete more aggressively in the ad space?

One idea, via Jensen, is more comprehensive integration with LinkedIn:

Why should advertisers and brands try Microsoft ads?

Microsoft offers more detailed reporting and data visualization, as well as automated bidding strategies and audience insights in addition to a wide selection of ad formats, including text, image, and video ads.

Microsoft Ads are also competitively priced, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious advertisers and brands.

And the introduction of Multimedia Ads has given the platform a unique feature that advertisers likely won’t find with other ad solutions.

Why are brands hesitant to try running Microsoft Ads?

There’s a perception that most everyone uses Google as their search engine of choice, Askew said, when in reality 724 million monthly unique desktop searchers globally on the Microsoft Search Network in December 2021 (according to comscore Search):

Besides the obvious point that volume is significantly lower than Google, performance can often be unpredictable as well, Jensen said:

The advantage of using Microsoft ads over Google Ads

Microsoft offers some advantages over Google Ads, including a unified interface for cross-platform optimization, more detailed reporting and data visualization.

Additionally, Microsoft offers a variety of pricing options with different ad formats that are likely a cheaper option than Google. Finally, Microsoft provides access to a larger global market, which can be beneficial for advertisers and brands looking to expand their reach. Said Askew:

Despite its limitations, the LinkedIn integration is a big advantage for Microsoft with a level of B2B data that the other platforms just don’t have, Jensen said:

So are Microsoft ads better for B2B?

It depends. (I know, I know. Sorry.)

Microsoft has a wide selection of ad formats, including text, image, and video ads, as well as audience insights and automated bidding strategies.

Additionally, Microsoft Ads allow for cross-platform optimization and detailed reporting, making it easier to track and measure campaign performance.

Finally, Microsoft is competitively priced and offers a variety of pricing options, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious B2B campaigns.

But as Askew pointed out, volume would likely be lower than that of its competitor, Google. For that reason alone, brands could be hesitant.

How about the Audience Network?

The Microsoft Ads Audience Network is beneficial for brands as it allows them to reach users on a variety of platforms, such as mobile apps and websites. This can be especially helpful for brands looking to target a wide range of audiences – especially B2B.

Additionally, the Audience Network provides access to more detailed data and insights, allowing brands to better tailor their campaigns to their target audiences.

Finally, the Audience Network is integrated into the Ads platform, allowing brands to manage campaigns across multiple platforms from a single dashboard.

Microsoft Ads has come a long way in recent years

Microsoft continues to improve with the help of AI technology. The company is investing heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence, which will greatly enhance its advertising capabilities in the future.

The bottom line is that Microsoft shouldn’t be overlooked by search marketers who want better results without breaking the bank. With the right targeting and optimization strategy in place, Microsoft Ads can be just as effective as Google Ads at a fraction of the cost.

The post Microsoft is improving its ad platform. Here’s why brands should give it a shot in 2023 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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