The role and relevance of PPC in the broader digital advertising mix just got a little bigger today (okay…maybe a LOT bigger). This week, Microsoft is unveiling a newly branded “Microsoft Advertising” and is shedding the more-limiting “Bing Ads” monniker. We’re already seeing this is more than just a name change.
Microsoft is rolling out the branding changes to its PPC advertising platform at this week’s Global Partner Summit in Redmond. The decision to rebrand the expanding presence of Bing Ads in the search landscape is clearly a move to demonstrate its broader capabilities and deeper connections to Microsoft’s overall engagement strategies.
Why is Microsoft doing this? Think back to July 2018 when Google did something similar, renaming AdWords to Google Ads. Clearly a move to demonstrate the platform had gone far beyond text ads, requiring a broader name.
Microsoft’s motivation is clearly rooted in some of the same notion. Pay-Per-Click advertising has moved way beyond matching up search terms and intent with advertising opportunities to drive action. Microsoft is aligning Microsoft Advertising (the platform formerly known as Bing Ads) with the broader aspects of search marketing. In its announcement today, Microsoft led with the notion about “making each connection feel one-to-one, at just the right time and place.”
By rebranding to Microsoft Advertising, the company can more readily connect what it’s doing in the PPC world with other marketing-specific products such as the Microsoft Audience Network. The company is also planning to develop a deeper connection to its partner program, which is now known as the “Microsoft Ads Partner Program.”
In tandem to the name change for Bing Ads, Microsoft is unveiling a new Sponsored Products offering. This new program brings innovative new alignment of marketing efforts between manufacturers (brands) and sellers (retailers). New reporting and optimization opportunities make it easier for brands and retailers to partner more directly for shared success.
Growth, Momentum, Direction
Google still holds the lion’s share of the market, particularly in the US, but Microsoft seems to be stepping on the gas more aggressively now. After 100 consecutive months of market share growth for Bing and it’s strategic push with Verizon Media, Microsoft can no longer have a perception that Bing Ads is a singular, in-the-corner PPC business. The platform and opportunities are expanding significantly, driven in large part by rapid advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Four must-know takeaways from today’s announcement:
1. Bing (the search engine) is still Bing. Microsoft is not abandoning the consumer-recognized search platform’s brand at all (no need to mess with something that is gaining traction against Google). Bing users will still go to bing.com to launch their search journey. The branding change is all about the ad platform associated with Bing.
2. Microsoft perhaps sees some of the biggest opportunity around the Sponsored Products offering. This is important because brand owners can gain greater visibility into how their products are performing through their retailers, driving much deeper insight. When a retailer and brand are both running products ads today, it’s not clear to the brand owner how their product is really faring in the market. They only see stats from their own campaigns.
3. With new sponsored products opportunities, the brand can get a more complete picture by seeing how their products perform when advertised through the retailers.
4. Retailers can benefit from these changes too because the door opens wider to forge agreements in which the brands themselves could pick up part of the advertising costs. Shared benefits = shared interests.
We expect to see continued improvement in the consumer experience through the Bing search platform. Combined with a continuing trend of market share gains for Bing, we expect the changes to drive even more clicks to product ads, which is a category of ads that has been surging in volume for the last few years, in particular.
Bing and Google will undoubtedly continue to duke it out for search supremacy. It may be one of the best examples of healthy competition in the marketplace. With each move by the big players, they need to deliver greater value to the consumers and the advertisers who pay to engage with people in the moment.
Let’s not forget our friends at Amazon who continue to work their wizardry to capture shopping intent and drive conversion. The Optmyzr team is studying every move by these players and we’re working closely with them to ensure we can simplify the work you do in the trenches to be the PPC rockstar your clients demand.