This week (29th April) sees the return of ADFUTURES, and Microsoft Advertising leading the charge with the third installment of the 2020 series. This webinar has now passed, and you can view the recording here >>>

Despite the online nature of the event, we’re committed to bringing you all of the same content intended for the original in-person date. As a result, we’re incredibly excited to see what Microsoft has to say about its forthcoming advertising products, as well as the opportunities the innovative Microsoft Audience Network already brings to the table.

With that in mind, we sat down with SearchStar’s Microsoft representative, Marion Mastromauro, to chat about the benefits of using Microsoft Advertising (Bing), the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Microsoft’s advertising offerings, and what developments we can expect to see from Microsoft Advertising across 2020 and beyond.

1. In not too many words, please tell us what you do…

My name is Marion, I’m an Account Director at Microsoft Advertising. My role here at Microsoft is to help support clients to develop and scale their digital marketing strategy, whilst making the most of our advertising platform.

2. What are some of the real advantages you see for advertisers fully investing in Microsoft Advertising?

Advertisers are always looking for more ways to connect with their customers. In the UK alone there are over 15 million people searching on our platform, making over 375 million searches every month. That’s 375 million potential opportunities to connect with a customer. When you scale that up to our global reach, Microsoft Advertising gives you access to over half a billion people worldwide.

However, it’s not just about scale, but also the rich understanding we have about our audience. Microsoft’s unique position in this space allows us to offer incredible audience targeting capabilities you can’t find anywhere else.

Just one example is LinkedIn Profile Targeting, which allows you to target people by company, industry, or job function. The LinkedIn data is unique to us and gives an incredible extra layer of targeting. Advertisers who are prepared to invest a little bit of time optimising in our platform see tremendous results and create great efficiencies in their digital marketing.

3. Microsoft Advertising is well-known for its environmental focus - what can you tell us about environmental initiatives you’re currently working on?

Sustainability is incredibly important to Microsoft, and the company is running several initiatives to protect our planet and to raise awareness of global issues. We recently announced our commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, to remove all our historical carbon emissions by 2050 and to invest $1 billion into a new climate innovation fund. Microsoft’s AI for Earth is another amazing initiative that aims to provide AI solutions and technology to some of the world’s biggest problems, from health pandemics to climate change.

From an advertising perspective, one of our Microsoft Advertising Search Partners is Ecosia, a non-profit search engine, powered by our algorithms that uses all the profits it makes from people searching on their engine to plant trees around the globe. We are proud to be able to empower companies like Ecosia to do the valuable work that they do, and as a result they have managed to plant over 90 million trees to date.

On a more local level, our marketing team has committed to reduce client giveaway “swag” products (and where we do give away items they are now sustainably sourced products). Partnering further with Ecosia, we are also planting trees on the behalf of our clients. In December our full team went to plant trees in the Dublin Area, aligning to our Microsoft sustainability mission.

4. How is Artificial Intelligence playing a part in the developments of Microsoft Advertising products?

When we look at the technology that we think is going to shape the future, Microsoft is investing in three big bets: Mixed Reality, Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence. Microsoft has been developing AI for nearly 30 years, and even after three decades this is an area that is still in its infancy and only now starting to bear fruit.

At the heart of our AI development is Bing. After Google, Bing is the world’s second largest AI algorithm in existence. It processes billions of queries a month, understands over 28 billion entities and can rationalise the myriad connections between those entities.

It’s that understanding and rationalisation of connections between entities that enables broad match in our search advertising and newer AI-powered solutions like Responsive Search Ads. AI is at the heart of the algorithms that allow us to enable automated bidding like target CPA or find gaps in campaigns with Dynamic Search Ads.

We don’t want to hold on to all this AI learning just to ourselves though. Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. We have taken our experience over 30 years of AI development and made it freely available for anyone to use through our cognitive services suite. Now anyone can plug our APIs to use speech recognition, translation, visual search and knowledge graph to make advertising solutions of their own.

5. What can you tell us about new product developments Microsoft has in store for advertisers?

Clearly, we have a huge competitor in search with Google. Our goal is to always strike a balance between parity and innovation. On the one hand we want to offer the same products and functionality that people expect when they use Google Ads. On the other hand, we want to show innovation and creativity in our platform.

So, throughout 2020 you will see a mix of both. We will launch parity products like Target ROAS in all European markets, but we are also going to differentiate with innovation. In the last year we’ve launched products like Action Extensions, LinkedIn Profile Targeting and 3D Ads – just to name three, that you can’t get on competitor platforms.

It’s exciting times for Microsoft Advertising, and we hope SearchStar customers will be willing to come on a journey with us and give our platform a try.