Microsoft are making strides and giving Google some major competition. Here are 8 examples of the company's progress.
Succeeding in search is all about making the most of opportunities. Whether that’s finding automation shortcuts, new features or underutilised tips, any way to boost your success puts you ahead of the competition.
Microsoft has been in the news a lot recently. They’ve just expanded their partnership with Samsung, are looking to take over TikTok’s entire global business and already own Xbox, LinkedIn and Skype. Their Partner Network allows you to advertise on the likes of Amazon, Apple, Gumtree, and other big names.
They’re taking big strides to cover even more bases, and that’s causing people to sit up and pay attention: when it comes to targeted advertising, market-share is a big deal.
For years in the advertising world, Microsoft has been seen as the baby sibling of Google – struggling tirelessly to compete with no real progress. But now, the powerhouse is bringing some serious competition to Google’s door. They’re making their move, and this is how.
1. Microsoft Advertising adds brand safety with IAS partnership
Microsoft has upped its brand safety game by partnering with Integral Ad Science (IAS) to preemptively block Audience Network ads on pages that are deemed moderate or high risk.
With brand safety a priority for many, this change shows Microsoft to be really helping advertisers find a balance between scale and safety. Now, the IAS will scan, evaluate and rate pages depending on their risk level. This includes categories such as alcohol, drugs, offensive language, hate speech and violence.
Microsoft’s progressive partnership helps to ensure that campaigns are brand safe and fraud free – something that will be a huge weight off the minds’ of those advertising on the Audience Network.
2. Incorporating LinkedIn targeting
Microsoft allows you to target audiences based on their LinkedIn profiles. This opens up a whole host of different opportunities for businesses whose target audience are working professionals.
It follows the same setup as other targeting settings, making it easy for users to get to grips with LinkedIn targeting, even if they’ve never used the platform themselves.
Aside from LinkedIn itself, Microsoft is the only platform to be offering this type of targeting – an absolute game-changer once fully rolled out.
3. Making ads visual with image extensions
Microsoft gets a reputation as playing catch up to Google, but this isn’t always true. With some features, such as Image Extensions, they’re way ahead of the game.
Inside Microsoft Ads, you can already add visual elements to your ads. This has only just been put out in a Beta by Google, allowing Microsoft Ads users to take advantage of their hesitation.
Image Extensions are a great way to make your campaigns stand out and give customers a better idea of what to expect when they click; you can add up to six images per ad group, with one being served each time.
The best bit? It’s a free extension, so try it on your ads today and see how your CTR improves.
4. Encouraging immediate action with action extensions
Another feature exclusive to Microsoft is their Action Extensions. It gives users the ability to add a clear CTA to text ads and entice more people to click – Beta testing showed an increased CTR of 20%.
Available for both desktop and mobile, those advertising on Microsoft can choose from 70 pre-defined Action Extensions to best suit their business.
Your CPC is the same whether a user clicks on your ad headline or Action Extension, and they can also be shown alongside other ad extensions, so you have nothing to lose by adding them to your campaigns.
5. Introducing their Digital Marketing Center
Microsoft is striving to make managing your online presence easier with their Digital Marketing Center.
Understanding that most advertisers use multiple platforms to reach their customers, Microsoft has created a free search and social campaign management platform. It’s designed with SMBs in mind and aims to tackle the time-consuming nature of running multiple accounts.
This AI-driven platform helps to centralise your paid and organic social as well as your paid advertising. For those short on time, Microsoft’s DMC can be a lifesaver as advertisers can set goals, targeting and budgets and then leave their AI to power the rest.
It doesn’t offer as many opportunities or features as the Adzooma platform, but as a standalone piece of software, it’s pretty useful.
Last year, Microsoft rolled out its Experiments feature to make testing campaign changes easier than ever. Since then, they’ve been adding new options to give users more ways to freshen up their PPC strategies – we all know how stale even the strongest performers can go.
The latest feature to be added to Experiments is a cookie-based specification. This refreshing feature ‘remembers’ which version of a split test a user was previously shown, and will only show that version every time they search.
Previously, a new search by the same user could show another option as it was treated as a new user.
The introduction of cookies here allows for more accurate results when running creative tests.
If you’re looking for further ways to liven up your PPC strategy, getting an agency on your side through our Marketplace has proven to get businesses great results.
7. Promoting fast indexing with URL submissions plugin
Microsoft have released a new WordPress plugin which integrates any WP site with their Bing Webmaster Tools URL submission API. Basically, it automatically submits any new or updated content to the search engine for fast indexing.
Whilst this is something which larger businesses have been able to do for themselves, the plugin opens things up to everyone – yet another example of how Microsoft is quietly championing smaller businesses.
8. Working on double key data encryption
The search giant isn’t afraid to spend time building industry-specific technology either; their Double Key Encryption has just entered public review. In 2019, over 60% of leaked records were from finance organisations and healthcare services saw an increase of 37% in data breaches. So Microsoft is doing something about it.
The Double Key Encryption security method allows you to protect highly sensitive data whilst keeping full control of your encryption key.
Because it utilises two keys, one stored with you and the other in Microsoft Azure, even Microsoft themselves can’t view your data as only you have access to both keys.
The feature is designed specifically for highly regulated industries such as those who were hit hardest by last year’s data breaches, or those who store data in the cloud. With data protection at the forefront of many businesses’ minds, it’s good to see Microsoft providing high-tech solutions for such an important issue.
A smart growth plan
Microsoft is offering its users more and more. Whilst it may not be the biggest player in the game, it’s making some strategic move to challenge the king.
There’s a lot to be learnt from their smart growth plan; by taking advantage of the great things they’re putting out, you can not only strengthen your online advertising but also stride ahead of your competition.
Set up your Microsoft Ads account today or run your current campaigns through Adzooma to see what other areas you could improve – completely free, of course.