In a blog post today, Steve Sirich, head of product marketing for Bing Ads, reviews last year’s platform updates and discusses new initiatives for 2015. In advance of the blog post release, Sirich shared some interesting news on upcoming features, including native ads on MSN.com by phone yesterday. More on that below.
Sirich said Bing Ads’ role at Microsoft is evolving to focus more on supporting consumer productivity. As I reported this past fall, Microsoft’s strategy for Bing is to integrate it throughout the company’s products, from Office to Xbox — Microsoft Execs Lay Out Strategy For Growing Bing’s Market Share: “We’re Putting Search Where People Are” — making Bing less of a destination and more platform.
RKG and Ignition One have both cited growth in spend and volume on Bing Ads in their most recent quarterly reports, and Bing was called out in Microsoft’s Q4 2014 earnings report with revenue growth of 23 percent year-over-year, driven by more query volume and higher revenue per search. Sirich said they are feeling good about Bing Ads’ query share (roughly 1/3 of the market across the Yahoo Bing Network) and growing share of wallet. He said they’re focusing on speed, enhanced targeting and ad formats in the coming year.
He called out these three key initiatives during our call:
Native Ads On MSN.com
Sirich says they are planning to beta test Bing Ads-fueled native advertising on MSN.com. Driving the idea of Bing Ads as an intent network, the ad targeting will pull intent from Bing Ads and extend that into relative programming on MSN, said Sirich. “It will add more, relevant volume and be great connection for advertisers.”
This effort is akin to Yahoo’s native stream ads, which are served through its Gemini platform.
The test is expected to start in the second half of 2015. Native ads will extend to mobile, though it’s not clear if that inventory will be available at the start of testing.
If Bing Ads makes it easy for advertisers to test the native ads within its existing interface and the intent signals and targeting prove effective, it could make for a fluid transition for current advertisers and give new advertisers added incentive to get on the platform. It’s certainly a way to answer calls for more volume and get on the native ads band wagon in a way that Google so far has not.
Asked if this would extend beyond MSN.com inventory, Sirich said they do envision that.
On the mobile front, Sirich says mobile app extensions will start rolling out in March. App extensions will be automatically targeted to a user’s device and operating system and can be served across Apple, Android and Windows phones, allowing users to download the app after clicking on the extension.
Product ads are also coming to mobile devices later this year, extending beyond desktop and tablet inventory. Additional ad extensions will also be rolling out shortly to smartphones, added Sirich.
Microsoft says search and click volume from smartphones more than doubled year-over-year on the Yahoo Bing Network.
Remarketing And Universal Event Tracking
Bing Ads launched Universal Event Tracking (UET) last October to enable advertisers to set up goal tracking and enables cross-device tracking with user IDs. It also makes retargeting possible.
Bing Ads’ initial entry into remarketing will be in search remarketing. Next week, Bing Ads will start to pilot bid boosting with a select set of partners, said Sirich, adding that we can expect to see more later this year and that they are hoping to see more acceleration here beyond bid boosting.
This is an area in which Bing Ads has been way behind Google. There finally seems to be some momentum here. And now, one can easily envision retargeting through native and display ads on MSN and beyond. How long it will take to get there remains to be seen.