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Microsoft ‘Audience Ads’ announced at Bing Partner Summit

During the Bing Partner Summit last week, Microsoft announced their new audience network, ‘Audience Ads’ bringing together several new elements that previously weren’t available on Bing’s Audience Network. These new elements available extend to; the Microsoft audience graph, Bing search-intent signals and Microsoft’s AI capabilities. In addition to these new elements, advertisers will also be able to extend their reach across various third-party and Microsoft properties outside of AOL who until now has been the exclusive seller of display advertising across Microsoft.

Initially, this will be available in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, with the first beta now live in the US across preselected advertisers (including Kohls, Lending Tree and HomeAdvisor) and an expected launch in the UK expected around October and will be GDPR compliant.

Among other reasons such as brand safety and the quality of Microsoft audience network, Steve Sirich (general manager of search advertising at Microsoft) argued that the Microsoft Audience Graph was a key factor separating them from their competition. Google and Facebook already offer AI machine learnings, and with the introduction of custom intent, early this year across Google search query data can already be included in display campaigns. However, with Audience Ads advertisers are able to reach millions of people “you can’t reach on Google or Facebook”.

Microsoft’s Audience Graph allows users to gain a richer understanding of users whilst ensuring “the right message is in front of the right user”, using signals from search, web activity, LinkedIn profiles, demographics and customer data. Using these signals, the audience graph consists of; 1.5 billion Window users, 500 million LinkedIn users and 120 million Office365 subscribers allowing advertisers to reach them across Microsoft properties including, MSN, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Edge with more partners to come.


All Response Media viewpoint

With the introduction of custom intent and smart display across Google (in some cases (cost per acquisition) CPA buying models) it was only a matter of time before Bing introduced a competitive display network offering expanding beyond AOL; allowing advertisers to reach the “63 million search users Google can’t reach.” They are also changing their approach to align closely to advertisers shift to audience marketing, with half of the digital advertisers planning to increase their spend on audience targeting this year. Despite accounting for only 26% of the UK market share (their own claim) their wealth of data is certainly not limited, and the addition of LinkedIn data will certainly interest advertisers who do not have the budget to buy directly from LinkedIn (you are even able to target just LinkedIn users with this new feature).

It will be interesting to see how this new feature performs across the US, and whether it can be a platform to rival Google’s Display Network.