Microsoft Pilots Custom Audience Targeting On Bing, Powered By Adobe’s DMP

Microsoft is beta testing a feature on its Bing search engine called Custom Audiences.

It is designed to improve targeting by letting advertisers upload first-party files like CRM, purchase history and subscription data.

If advertisers want to participate in the beta test, which has been underway for several months, advertisers must upload their data via Adobe’s Audience Manager data management platform (DMP). Microsoft will work to integrate with other major DMPs later this year.

“This is the first time ever Microsoft and Bing Ads will allow clients to import their data into Bing’s search engine for better ad targeting,” said Rob Wilk, VP and head of sales for North America Search at Microsoft.

The biggest benefit is advertisers can use addressable data, instead of just keywords and budget restrictions, to set search bid parameters.

Custom Audience segments go beyond keyword targeting and can include targeting parameters based on “lifetime value,” “time since the last purchase” and “status tier.”

Microsoft is also launching “in-market” US audiences, a segmentation feature which gives advertisers curated lists of consumers deemed to be in-market for a particular purchase category across Bing, MSN and other Microsoft services. 

Microsoft partnered with Adobe’s DMP initially because of client demand and because Microsoft believed Adobe’s technology could support the scale of Bing’s search business, Wilk said.

Adobe’s DMP integration to Microsoft’s search engine is a server-to-server connection, said Ali Bohra, director of strategy and marketing for Adobe Advertising. That connection is much deeper than the pixel-based integrations traditionally used by demand side platforms to target audiences.

Our deal with Adobe is driving home that advertisers really value the audiences behind search queries,” Wilk said. “When someone types ‘vacation packages’ into a search engine, that’s already more valuable than the data you can get from most providers.”

Although Microsoft is beginning to support custom audiences on search through Bing, Wilk said because Bing powers search on so many channels, its partnership with Adobe could have widespread implications.

For instance, Microsoft has seen a “huge uptick” in conversational search queries coming through Bing since consumers can activate Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana by clicking the microphone icon on their PC and speaking their search query.

Microsoft is beginning to mine some of those voice queries, which tend to include a lot of qualitative information, and deliver insights to advertisers, Wilk said.

“When we think about search, it goes beyond just the notion of the search engine,” Wilk said. “It’s really all of this consumer intelligence we gather that not only powers Bing, but all the other places search is found.

“Bing powers Siri and Spotlight for Apple and we power search on Amazon Kindle. … Our expectation is there will be other areas of Microsoft that can use this [Adobe integration], as you can imagine, because we own LinkedIn as well.”

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