Microsoft Ads Introduces News Targeting Options Based on AI and Data

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Though it’s not as big as Google or Facebook, Microsoft has good advertising products. The company has made several advances in the last few years to make Microsoft Advertising more enticing to business owners who want to access consumers that are missed by Google and Facebook’s ad networks. To make it easier for businesses to reach their target audience, Microsoft Ads has made beta tests of a new advertising target solution available to more advertisers.

The key to a successful advertising campaign is choosing a platform that can accurately place ads in front of interested consumers. For many years, PPC campaigns relied on search terms alone to determine the intentions of people online. However, by including additional data sources and technology, ad networks become better at determining which ads to show and to who. 

Last week, Microsoft Advertising expanded a test for new targeting options that uses AI and additional data to ensure ads are shown in places where they are most likely to generate a click to a website or product. 

As Microsoft’s Steve Sirich explained in an announcement, “Today, we are announcing new audience targeting solutions in open beta that combine your secure customer data with new Microsoft technology to pinpoint your ideal customers when they’re ready to buy.”

Some people may be concerned to hear that Microsoft is using data and AI to predict the behavior of a target audience. However, Microsoft assures advertisers that they have principles and rules regarding ethics in how they handle data, as well as for how they handle and use AI technology.

One change Microsoft is testing is the use of Product Audiences. This targeting strategy helps businesses connect customers to a business’s product by creating remarketing lists for specific products in shopping campaigns. The system creates unique product IDs that track what a customer interacts with while an ad display matches that product ID. This makes it possible to show more ads to people with a clear intent to purchase. Microsoft says that customers using the Product Audiences feature in our pilot study saw up to double the conversion rate (CVR) and a 40 percent lower cost per acquisition (CPA).

Microsoft is also testing a Similar Audiences targeting option. This strategy automatically finds new customers who have similar interests to an existing remarketing list. Similar to the offerings on Facebook Ads, these ‘look-alike’ prospects are a great fit for a business, which should increase conversion rates and ROI. According to Microsft, customers saw 70 percent higher conversion rates from Similar Audiences when compared to non-targeted users for the same ads.

The companies that used these tactics during the closed beta have reported favorable results. By using these advanced targeting options, Overstock.com saw several key improvements to its advertising campaign. According to Microsoft, in the year since Overstock.com implemented Microsoft Audience Ads, the company saw an increased weekly click volume by 576 percent, increased weekly revenue by 1,247 percent, and an increased return on quarterly ad spend by 33 percent.

While these results may not be typical, they show that there’s a lot of potential for brands that include Microsoft Ads as part of a comprehensive online advertising campaign. For more information about search marketing, read this article on Google’s recent update involving video timestamps in search results.


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