Did you know that mastering Microsoft Ads doesn’t have to be complex?
To show you, we’ve interviewed three Microsoft Ad experts to give you their opinion and viewpoint on how to be successful with Microsoft Ads.
From scaling to fine tuning, we hope you enjoy this deep dive.
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When it comes to Microsoft Ads, there are only a few people we turn to for amazing advice that works across the board for different goals.
Whether you’re in SaaS, eCommerce, or lead gen, you’ll be excited to learn that the recipes these experts will share will all help you hit your goals faster.
In Order Of The Guests Below:
Tess Milligan has been working in Digital Media for almost a decade. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2015, she did paid search and display for an agency in the automotive industry, helping local dealerships and dealer groups drive leads and foot traffic. At Microsoft she has worked across various verticals with both agencies and direct advertisers. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids and has been known to flex her baking skills, perfecting the *best* chocolate chip cookie recipe
Nuggets Dropped 46
“Fine-tune your campaigns and segment them by targeting strategy.”
Evelyn Nicholls has 10 years of experience in the world of paid search, and joined the Microsoft team as an Account Manager in 2018. She enjoyed her years at an agency where she worked on PPC strategies across various verticals, as well as her time in-house driving leads for a B2B business. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking and planning adventures with her husband and 10-month old daughter
Nuggets Dropped 46
“Break down your high-level KPIs into focused, digestible stats.”
Brodan has been an Account Manager and Microsoft Specialist at KlientBoost for over a year. Before KlientBoost, he was a Logistics Analyst at Amazon as well as a PPC Specialist at a number of other companies. Outside of being an Account Manager and Microsoft Specialist, he’s a comedian with an active following on YouTube.
Nuggets Dropped x19
“Leverage Microsoft-exclusive features that Google doesn’t offer.”
Microsoft Advertising Mastery With Tess Milligan And Evelyn Nicholls
Johnathan: All right everybody, super excited for this episode of Microsoft Ads. We have two great people on the inside of Microsoft seeing a lot of things happening on the platform. So, I wanna introduce you to Tess Milligan and Evelyn Nicholls. Hi guys!
Johnathan: And then also, we are blessed with a co-host we found him somewhere in the building and we were like, “Who’s a Microsoft Ad expert?” And Brody raised his hand, so Brodan (Brody) White is on the show as well.
Brodan: Great to be here. Great to be here.
Johnathan: Thanks Brody, so Tess and Evelyn you guys have done tons of upgrades and with acquisitions in regards to the Microsoft Ad platform.
I wanna use this episode to cement something for people too, ’cause a lot of people think, “Oh yeah, we’ll just use Microsoft Ads.” That’s a Bing platform, basically, because it’s cheaper than the other network that we know well about. That’s not the case anymore, I’m excited to share what you guys have to share.
Tess: Sound good, yeah where should we start?
Johnathan: Perfect, perfect, so when we chatted before this episode one thing we broke down was understanding the different networks, or the different platforms that basically, the Microsoft Ad platform has. Can you guys break those down for us and what they are?
Tess: Yeah, so this is Tess and I’ll start with this. So, I think a lot of people generally think of Microsoft Advertising as that is search as on Bing.com and while that is a huge portion of what our network is, it also expands out beyond that, into not only our partners with Yahoo and AOL, but also with a vast network of other partners that we work with to serve our clients ads.
So it really does extend beyond just Bing.com And we can talk a little bit more about how to take advantage of some of those other placements as we go.
Johnathan: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, you guys have the search which is primarily Bing, AOL, and Yahoo, in addition to that. Then you have the partner network as well.
Is there another silo or pillar within that? Or is it basically, there’s the audience network too right? Or is it not called that? I think that’s more on Facebook, maybe?
Tess: Right, so that is what we refer to as the audience network, which is our data buffering. Which is sort of a new pillar that we’ve launched. that coincided with our brand change as well, to shift away from being such a search focused brand, and now just encompassing more beyond that.
Johnathan: Okay, and I know recently too, Microsoft as a whole from a … was it search market share, that we spoke about, has grown quite well, as well? Can you tell us something into that?
Tess: Yeah, so I’ve been with Microsoft since 2015 and at that time when I came onboard, We had just changed the partnership with Yahoo and brought sales and service back into Microsoft from Yahoo.
And when that happened, we were about 31% market share on PC. And now we’re almost at the end of 2019, we are at about 36% market share so, we have seen over the years, even prior to that, we’ve been on a constant upward trajectory in gaining profit share as we expand our partners, as we extend our offering to native and those other types of placement.
Johnathan: That’s awesome, that’s so cool, so let’s start off with search. One of things we know very well from the Google side is, how search operates. I know that there’s a new advantage with your LinkedIn acquisition basically, in regards to what you can now do with that.
Can you guys like unravel that a bit for us?
Evelyn: Yeah absolutely, so I think when we heard that Microsoft was buying LinkedIn, everybody’s ears perked up a bit, especially on our side. We just had a lot of questions, because LinkedIn has their own ad team, and their ad networks.
So it was a very exciting partnership. Who knows how Bing will change. And I think that partnership and that purchase was very strategic. And so with Microsoft changing their brand, I think it’s just indicative of how just overall encompassing it will be.
So the way that the LinkedIn network is available to us today, are in two different parts. So, first is with search, so we are able to enter your office into a pilot, LinkedIn’s profile targeting pilot. You’re able to target using company name, job function and industry, those types of targets within your search campaign.
So just like you can target using demographics, or different audience types, you can also tap into this keyword, but also falls into the job function as well. So that’s available as like a bid option, you would add a bid adjustment to the LinkedIn target.
And then, the second way that you can target with LinkedIn is through our native ad format. And with the native ad format you can exclusively target LinkedIn traffic. So, it’s still the same three types of targeting, company name, job function, and industry, but within our native inventory you can exclusively target people that follow into that LinkedIn target.
Johnathan: Huh, and I mean we’ll talk about this later too, like in regards to the cost difference. Because a lot of people shy away from LinkedIn ads by themselves, but don’t understand, or see, or know that you can use LinkedIn targeting for much cheaper, elsewhere from an inventory perspective.
Evelyn: Exactly, so while we are not showing our ads on LinkedIn’s network, from a CPC perspective and a budget efficiency perspective, I think it makes a whole lot of sense, especially if you are interested in that LinkedIn audience. It’s a no-brainer to, I think, leverage both of these types of targets.
Johnathan: Yeah that makes sense. Quick question for, or I guess also for the people listening to how to take advantage of this as well. ‘Cause, there’s two types of, of basically, using audiences when it comes to search.
There’s observation mode, there’s targeting mode. Targeting mode requires the person to type in the keyword and to be part of that audience. So it’s like the middle of a Venn diagram, so to speak.
The observation mode, that we also talked about earlier. it’s almost a no brainer to add as many audiences as you think are relevant, in observation mode to all your campaigns, Because it’s gonna show you, separately, how they are performed when they know that that person is part of an audience, for example.
So you kind of have like that little bit of research before you decide to move it to targeting mode later on.
Johnathan: Is that correct? Okay.
Evelyn: Yes, exactly. So, you would basically, and this goes for audiences. It could go for devices, it could go for location. So any of these types of targeting that are available in observation mode, which means, with a 0% bid adjustment modifier. It just kind of lives.
It’s additional reporting queues and your able to take the high level metrics that you receive, whether it’s impressions, click per rate, the CPC’s that you’re seeing, and you’re able to break it down at the audience level, or the location level, or the device level.
Johnathan: Yeah. Yeah that makes sense. And then, for people, some of the things that we’ve been doing. And I know Brody, you’ve tested this as well too.
A lot of times we’ll bid on keywords and we’ll know the intent, and some things will be black and white, some things won’t be black and white, and they’re kind of on the fence. We don’t know if this keyword will actually be a good keyword to bid on.
Johnathan: But with a targeting mode of adding an audience to it now, which is like that safety net, have you seen any differences in results across the board of what you’re seeing?
Brodan: Yeah, I think so, definitely. Yeah, that’s a great point, is identifying what customers are visiting your site. What type of group they’re a part of. And being able to increase or decrease bids based off performance.
Yeah, in the long run, it’s definitely something I would suggest taking a look at. Google and Bing, or sorry, Microsoft Ads.
Brodan: But yeah, absolutely.
Johnathan: Tess and Evelyn, quick question, are there any things like audience insights for the people who are visiting your site, to see what companies or industries they’re coming from?
Tess: So, yeah, I think one of my favorite features in addition to LinkedIn, which has been very, very popular, is the in-market audiences target and this is available for all advertisers. You don’t have to office into a pilot. But these are basically targeting people that are in market, looking to take action.
And we have hundreds of different categories that you can choose from. So typically there should be an audience that aligns either directly to your business, or is very similar. And yeah, you can add this audience on. And I like to use this strategy, not only to identify audiences that are, maybe direct audiences that I want to target, but maybe supplementary audiences that kind of fall within your business’s range.
And then also, perhaps, audiences that you think that you probably don’t want to target as well. Just add all of those types of audiences in as observation mode. And once you’ve gathered that data, you can take a look at your click per rate and conversion rate metrics, and make that adjustment accordingly.
Johnathan: Yeah. You said supplemental audiences, which is a better word from what we’ve been talking about, we call it ancillary audiences. So Brody for example, Brody likes to go weight lifting. You don’t, you can’t see it in the Podcast, but he’s a decent sized guy.
Brodan: I’m decent.
Johnathan: But what you don’t know.
Brodan: Better than Jonathan at least.
Tess: I can tell by his voice.
Johnathan: Yeah, there’s more testosterone in his veins than mine. What you don’t know about Brody is, he also likes knitting. And so if you didn’t just look at him and think that. But those in-market audiences, and you can see where you over-index, would be very helpful.
So, it’s like the same, like a real world example. Because obviously, Brody likes crocheting more than knitting, everybody knows that. So that’s not the audience you would be part of.
If somebody likes to go hunting, they might be interested in pick-up trucks, they might be interested. There’s all, like that whole political, which is more affinity related and all that kind of stuff too.
So, what’s really cool that you guys are saying, that we’re hearing, is that there’s so much more opportunity to be very very creative and so many spider webs of connections to get better results too.
Tess: Exactly. My philosophy is let the data speak for itself. Add in as many interesting audiences that you’re curious about. And use this as the opportunity to do research.
And while we’re talking about in-market audiences, maybe something that’s a tip, that I’ve been speaking to a lot of advertisers about prior to the holidays. Is you can use the target and bid function, to perhaps launch campaigns that are a bit broader and more competitive than you’d normally wanna spend your ad budget on.
So, if you’re running on holiday terms, like Black Friday, you know that’s going to be very expensive. But you’re really targeting a specific audience, then maybe you can target and bid on that in-market audience and that way you know that your ads then is focused.
Johnathan: Yeah. One of the things that I was really excited about when we talked about what we wanted to talk about on the show. You guys have given some like, your favorite optimization frameworks, And like, tips and strategies.
Tell us about your thought on granularity, for example. ‘Cause that’s something that we believe in a lot here, too.
Tess: Yeah, so I think that we all have varying philosophies on this. I’ve been in a patriarch world for 10 years, mostly as a practitioner. So I feel like my philosophy is as granular and as controlled as possible. Even though we’re moving towards the direction of automation, and I see a lot of value in that. But I think that, again, the more data that you have, the more learnings that you have. And so I’m all for granularity.
One of the ways that I found since being in this role at Microsoft and sort of seeing things from the other side, is the search partner network or the syndication network is extremely valuable on Microsoft. And I think a lot of advertisers write that off, because its not necessarily Bing.com’s search traffic. But that’s where a large portion of our conversions are coming in through. And the CPC’s are usually significantly lower.
And so my recommendation here on the topic of granularity is break out campaigns. So have your owned and operated traffic on one campaign and then have your search partner traffic on another, because you don’t want your inflated bids, on the owned and operated traffic to necessarily be the bids on your search partner traffic.
Tess: So, I’m all for granularity, I think as long as you’re comfortable within excel pivoting, my thought is do it.
Johnathan: Yeah, for sure.
Tess: And one other thing that I would add to that, to kind of talk a little bit about the differences between Microsoft Advertising and other search engines.
One of the things we allow our advertisers to have insight into is, if you’re running on our partner network, you have the ability to look at the site where your ads are appearing, and view the performance on those sites. And if you see something that isn’t working for your particular type of business, you can exclude that site.
Johnathan: You can see the individual sites? Like the break down–
Tess: Yeah, yeah.
Johnathan: Wow. I haven’t seen that being possible anywhere before.
Tess: Yeah so, it’s one of the things that we really pride ourselves on in giving insight into.
Tess: Because that helps to ultimately help you have trust in our platform and the ability to really make it work for your business.
Johnathan: Yeah, yeah. We spoke about action extensions a while back too. Can you explain to us what they are and what they do?
Brodan: Yeah, that’s something I was gonna ask, actually.
Johnathan: Stole it from you.
Tess: Yeah. This is also probably my next, third favorite thing aside from LinkedIn and in-market audiences, is action extensions. So, this is an extension that’s only available on Microsoft Ads. And so a lot of advertisers don’t know about it. But it’s an extension that went from pilot to general availability within a matter of weeks, because it just performed really, really well.
Tess: So action extension, what that is, is a call to action button that appears next to your text ad. And there’s about 60 different call to actions that you can chose from. And to implement it is very easy. You just go to your extensions tab and then there’s a drop down menu. And you can select from the CTA’s available. And they are across a lot of different languages.
So, I think this is a no-brainer, because it will almost 100% guarantee in results, and a click to rate lift, because it has that strong CTA. It reinforces any CTA that you would have within your ad text itself. And it just helps your ad stand out.
My tip that I’ve been also providing as well, is I’ve been seeing these action extensions all over our surf, but I never see the same CTA repeated. And so my suggestion is to add as many relevant CTA’s to your campaign or account, as possible. So that when your add is being surfed, your ad is more likely to show an action extension because it’s not a duplicate of a competitor.
Johnathan: Right, okay. That’s super super interesting. One thing I wanna touch on real quickly, before I pass it over to you guys on anything else you want to touch on, is can we go a little deeper on the native advertising side, and the partner side? With that B2B advantage of the LinkedIn data and what that means for like the cost per clicks and CPMs?
Tess: Yeah so I can talk a little bit about that. When you are running on a Microsoft audience network, that enables you to really build out your overall strategy to not only help to drive incremental searches, because somebody has seen one of your native ads. But it also allows you to get more targeted, with how you’re approaching that overall strategy.
Because like Evelyn was talking about earlier, if you’re just adding LinkedIn profile targeting in your search campaign, all you can do is bid up or down. Whereas with the audience network, if you’re running in that pilot that we have going on where the ads display on MSN and Outlook, you can actually specifically target that audience and at a much lower CPC.
And the other thing that I would add to that is, if you are looking to test that type of strategy out, I would recommend actually setting up different campaigns for the different types of targeting. So you’d set one up to target a specific LinkedIn audience. Then you set up another one to target a remarketing audience or an in-market audience. So that way you can really more fine-tune that overall strategy and really target those specific audiences differently.
And then the other thing that I would say is just to really pay attention to what. If you are launching that type of campaign, and your working on that pilot, really look at what that does to the overall click lift of your search campaign.
Tess: So, run that ad or run that campaign, and then take a look at what that does to your overall click per rate in your search campaign.
Johnathan: Does it usually, are you teasing us? Or are you gonna tell us what we could expect.
Tess: Oh, sorry. Yes, you should be seeing a lift. If it’s working properly, and you set it up properly, you should be seeing a lift in click per rate on your search campaign.
Johnathan: There we go.
Tess: We’ve been told that we’re seeing across just the board of the people that are opted into the pilot. There’s a 43% lift in searches after they’ve seen a native ad or through our ad mail.
Johnathan: This is unrelated to. Well, it’s actually very related to you guys. Because we had a LinkedIn Ads episode where we talked to people from LinkedIn and they were mentioning the same thing. When you were doing sponsored content ads, in addition to like, sponsored in mail. And when they were both going at the same time, there was a ripple effect of like increase, right?
So I completely believe that too, it’s very common in the account-based marketing world, which I think people paying attention to this episode are going to care a lot about, because of the B2B growth you guys have, and all the things that are gonna set you apart even more which is so rad.
Johnathan: What questions am I not asking you guys, or are we doing really well here?
Evelyn: One other thing that I would add if you’re just thinking about how you might utilize Microsoft Advertising in addition to the other types of digital media that you’re running. We actually have a larger search share in certain verticals.
So we’ve been talking a lot about B2B, and that’s definitely one of them. But we also do really well in verticals like financial services, in real estate.
Evelyn: Healthcare. Automotive. So if you are a business that is in one of those verticals, we actually have a larger search share than what I was talking about at the beginning of the episode.
Johnathan: Interesting, good to know that.
Brodan: Yeah. That’s actually I was gonna bring up is, how you would go about bringing up to a business or if you’re an agency, a client, who’s on the fence of running Microsoft Ads compared to Google or other platforms like that.
How you would differentiate yourselves from other platforms, and get them on board?
Johnathan: What’s your sales pitch, is what we–
Brodan: Yeah exactly.
Tess: Oh, good question. I guess to add to that, I would just say really, when you are running across multiple channels, and with us specifically, you’re able to target an audience that is an older demographic, which is more affluent.
Our advertisers tend to spend more money than the average internet searcher. So I think when you’re thinking about that, in terms of just growing your business. I wouldn’t care, if I were a business owner where that traffic was coming from. I would care that it’s actually gonna result in a conversion.
Evelyn: Right, and I think to your guys’ earlier point, about typically the CPC’s and the efficiency just being stronger on Microsoft Ad traffic. I think that would be the case time and time again. It’s just that with a smaller market share, although it is growing, it just doesn’t seem like it gets enough attention.
And so my goal as I’m partnering with these different advertisers is to highlight the easy things that you could be doing to make sure that you’re utilizing and maximizing your reach on Microsoft, if it’s a good fit for you guys.
Johnathan: Yeah, yeah
Brodan: Yeah those are great points.
Johnathan: Crystal clear, “We can make you more money,” is how you can summarize that, too.
Brodan: Pretty much. That’s all that matters.
Johnathan: Perfect, well you guys have been so, so awesome. Thank you so much for being here. And there’s gonna be more we’re gonna talk about in the future, so I’m excited to have you back.
Brodan: Yeah, absolutely.
Evelyn: Thanks for having us.
Tess: Sounds good, thanks so much!
Johnathan: All right, talk soon guys.
Brodan: See you guys.
Microsoft Ads Mastery With Brodan White
Johnathan: Alright, so, so we talked to Tess and Evelyn, um, before this part of the episode and so, I wanna call bs on some of the things they said. Just kidding, they’re actually really really honest and great and straight forward.
Brodan: Yeah, for sure.
Johnathan: A lot of the stuff had me thinking about like how we execute stuff at Klientboost.
Johnathan: You do a lot with Microsoft Ads, and also on the Bing platform, what were your, like, thoughts and takeaways that you thought were like “This is cool” or like, “Didn’t know about this”?
Brodan: Yeah, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was their market share.
Brodan: Y’know, like compared to Google. Even their audience, their average income, household income. The average person on there visitor is like 100K plus.
Brodan: You know what I mean? So, from a business standpoint, depending on where your business is at, those are some things you need to consider and make that switch over, if it’s gonna be relevant, so…
Johnathan: When somebody told me this joke in the past, and I’m- It’s so evil but it was like, they talk about how their demographic is older and a lot of people joke, “You mean like way, way older.” and they’re like “If you sell Life-Alert, or walk-in tubs, like, Microsoft and Bing ads is great for you.” And I was like “Wow, what a roast, but it’s really funny.”
Brodan: I know, I know.
Johnathan: But the good news is that yes, if you’re listening and that is what you sell, definitely go on that platform.
Brodan: Yeah, take advantage of the old people.
Johnathan: But in addition to that, there is a lot of other people who, because of the market share increase, you can just do the math and look at like, well, which browsers are having market share too.
And it’s not just like, Internet Explorer or Internet- like, what it’s called? Edge? Microsoft Edge, or whatever. It’s not like, necessarily them just growing in popularity, it is the search engines themselves too, which is really cool to see.
And then from like a B to B perspective, a lot of people listening, I think, have clients in that space or are in that space too. ‘Cause there’s a lot like on the to-do list for a digital marketer, and like, you might say “Let’s start on Google. Let’s do some Facebook. Let’s do some LinkedIn, because it’s B to B, and then let’s do like Microsoft Ads, y’know, in the fourth.”
But I think, people quickly, based off what Tess and Evalynn were saying, that their partner network, the native network like equivalent that they’re doing, you can still have LinkedIn targeting and then just pay those cost per clicks that are cheap on those networks.
In what position do you recommend, ’cause it seems like you just speed that up at all costs no matter what.
Brodan: Yeah, I think so. I think test the waters as soon as you can. Y’know, I know if you’re dealing with an international client, or if you have an international business.
For example, I had a client who is in Norway, a screen printing client. We hopped on there. I say internationally it’s not as popular as Google. But, if you’re in the US, absolutely take advantage of the cheap CPCs, and take advantage of, y’know, less competition as well.
Brodan: Y’know, there’s way, way, way less competition. Everybody thinks, y’know, I mean you hear the phrase all the time, “Just Google it,” right? When’s the last time you heard somebody say “Just Bing it”?
Johnathan: They actually tried to make that a thing, like, years ago, and it just like backfired big time.
Brodan: Right right.
Johnathan: So my philosophy on marketing, because I want to be able to delegate too in the position that I’m in, is I don’t really care how much volume of conversions that are coming from a channel. I just want to make sure that I have the blueprint. That I create the infrastructure, and that it’s good and that somebody can actually take care of it.
Like that’s my job. I’m an infrastructure ‘Bob the Builder’ type person. It seems to me like Microsoft Ads, obviously it has way more bells and whistles than it used to when it was just like mainly Bing ads, but it’s the same thing with like Capterra, for example, of like anything that’s B to B related.
Like, get that set up now and even if it’s just like ten conversions trickling in and you’re making money off of it, that’s good! Now go on to the next one. And obviously keep tabs on it and all that kind of stuff, and test everything else that people are saying to try out and all the things they’re coming out with, ’cause Tess and Evalynn, a lot of the stuff they were mentioning was in pilot, meaning it’s not widely released yet.
Johnathan: So they’re coming with new stuff so take the Microsoft Ads platform more seriously than you probably do today, if you’re not already.
Brodan: I agree.
Johnathan: And then just get all that base stuff, the fundamental plumbing done, and it’s gonna be exciting to see what it can do later.
Brodan: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Definitely take advantage of what Bing has to offer over- Sorry! Microsoft Ads.
Johnathan: No, you can say Bing.
Brodan: We’ve got to get used to that.
Johnathan: Aw, dang, that re-brand is tough.
Brodan: I know, it is tough. But yeah, take advantage of the extra things that they offer that Google doesn’t.
Brodan: Y’know what I mean? Although there’s less volume. I mean, your CPAs are gonna be super low.
Brodan: You know what I mean?
Johnathan: And there’s always a way. This is, like, I know Microsoft Ads I don’t think is like, encompassing an umbrella term that includes LinkedIn ads, ’cause I think they’re still separate but, and we did have a separate episode, but it’s just, it’s the same thing with everything that you’re listening to and it’s very stupid advice, but it’s really true at the same time. Test, keep testing.
Johnathan: The bigger thing though, here’s a catch. It’s how you test, and the way that you prioritize those tests, because a lot of times what we do and what we find success with is like, we talk about PPC temperatures, and you can afford…
Of course the economics of your business can differ, but like if you wanted to go straight to LinkedIn ads for example, and the CPMs are very expensive and therefore more expensive than any other platform. A lot of people don’t look at it and say “Well what’s the cost per sale?”
Johnathan: What does it actually cost you when you get a deal that turns into something closed on LinkedIn? Let’s talk about that instead of CPMs. Let’s talk about that instead of CPCs. And once people have that conversation, now Microsoft Ads starts getting more attractive, with everything they have to offer, that we learned.
Brodan: Exactly. Exactly. Totally agree.
Johnathan: Didn’t mean to steal your thunder.
Brodan: No! All good.
Johnathan: Cool, man. Well, thanks for the wrap up. This is a very very straight-forward episode. I hope you guys got some good nuggets, and excited to see you all in the next one.
Brodan: Absolutely, and I hope you enjoyed my silky smooth voice.
Brodan: I’ll be back.
Johnathan: All right. Bye.