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Downstream performance impact of Microsoft Audience Network ads

Our Advertiser Analytics & Insights Group recently set out to understand the performance impact of Microsoft Audience Network campaigns, and to prove that users exposed to Microsoft Audience Network ads engage with brands at a higher rate. Our measurement hypothesis was that exposure to Microsoft Audience Ads (native ads) would drive a lift in engagement across every stage of the marketing funnel. Over the past nine months, we’ve conducted dozens of client studies across multiple verticals to measure the lift driven by ad exposure (impression, even without a click) of Microsoft Audience Network ads. We then compared that performance of exposed users to that of a control group of eligible, but unexposed users. From there, we tracked each user’s likelihood to search for the advertiser’s brand terms (awareness), visit the advertiser’s website (consideration), and convert on the advertiser’s website (conversion).

Microsoft Audience Ads drive lift in awareness

We found that exposure to Microsoft Audience Ads generates a lift in awareness for advertisers, meaning users who were exposed to an advertiser’s Audience Ad were more likely to search for the advertiser’s brand on Microsoft Bing compared to users who were eligible but unexposed. For the travel vertical specifically, advertisers included in the study saw an average 3.9x lift in brand awareness per user, measured by post-exposure brand search rate. Our hypothesis was also proven true across all other vertical industries for which studies were conducted.

Lift in awareness (brand search rate)

Bar chart showing the lift in brand search rate (awareness) due to Microsoft Audience Ads exposure across various vertical industries. There was an average 3.9x lift for travel advertisers, 3.1x for retail, 2.4x for autos, 2.2x for technology and telecommunications, and 1.8x for financial services.

Microsoft Audience Ads drive lift in consideration

Exposure to Microsoft Audience Ads also generates a lift in consideration for advertisers, meaning users who were exposed to an advertiser’s Audience Ad were more likely to visit the advertiser’s website, regardless of entry point, compared to users who were eligible but unexposed. To note, this measures visits to the site even if they didn’t come from online search; users can visit the site by navigating directly or using any other method. For the automotive industry specifically, advertisers included in the study saw an average 6.6x lift in brand consideration per user, measured by post-exposure domain visitation rate. Again, our hypothesis was also proven true across all other vertical industries for which studies were conducted.

Lift in consideration (domain visitation rate)

Bar chart showing the lift in domain visitation rate (consideration) due to Microsoft Audience Ads exposure across various vertical industries. There was an average 6.6x lift for automotive advertisers, 5.7x for travel, 4.9x for technology and telecommunications, 4.4x for retail, and 1.9x for financial services.

Microsoft Audience Ads drive lift in conversion

Exposure to Microsoft Audience Ads also generates a lift in conversion for advertisers, meaning users who were exposed to an advertiser’s Audience Ad were more likely to convert on the advertiser’s website compared to users who were eligible but unexposed. To note, this is measured using our proprietary browser data analyzing the advertiser domain and conversion URL parameter (e.g., /confirmation) performance. For the travel industry specifically, advertisers included in the study saw an average 6.4x lift in conversion rate per user. Again, our hypothesis was proven true across all other vertical industries for which studies were conducted.

Lift in conversion (conversion rate)

Bar chart showing the lift in conversion rate (conversion) due to Microsoft Audience Ads exposure across various vertical industries. There was an average 6.4x lift for travel advertisers, 4.5x for retail, 4.0x for financial services, 3.9x for technology and telecommunications, and 3.8x for automotive.

All this combined yield one single takeaway — the Microsoft Audience Network drives a lift in advertiser performance across the entire marketing funnel! Leveraging the Microsoft Audience Network is a great way to reach net-new users (awareness), but with the right strategy in place, it’s also successful in driving users further down the funnel.

Achieve more with the Microsoft Audience Network by creating a full funnel strategy

Taking this one step further with this data, we were also able to understand lift in performance across awareness, consideration, and conversion based on audience targeting solutions. For example, if your goal is strictly to drive awareness, across all advertisers where studies were conducted, In-market Audiences and Similar Audiences generated an average 2.8x lift and 2.3x lift in brand search rate, respectively.

If your goal is to reach users mid-funnel (consideration), maximize targeting of your own first-party audiences, including repeat visitors. Additionally, strategically targeting In-market Audiences that are core to your product category or offering, as well as those where users overlap, will drive impact, and reach users who are on their path to converting. Both remarketing and In-market audiences generated a lift in consideration across all advertisers where studies were conducted; 5.0x lift and 9.7x lift, respectively.

Finally, if your goal is to drive conversions through the Microsoft Audience Network, ‘target and bid’ your first-party remarketing and Custom Audiences lists. Both have proven to drive a lift in conversions across all advertisers where studies were conducted; 4.7x lift and 2.6x lift, respectively.

Marketing funnel diagram that highlights lifts in awareness, consideration, and conversion by Microsoft Advertising product. In-market Audiences and Similar Audiences drive 2.8x and 2.3x lifts in awareness (likeliness to search for an advertiser’s brand), respectively. Remarketing and In-market Audiences drive 5.0x and 9.7x lifts in consideration (likeliness to visit an advertiser’s website), respectively. Remarketing and Custom Audiences drive 4.7x and 2.6x lifts in conversion (likeliness to convert on an advertiser’s website), respectively.

Maximize performance by combining Microsoft paid search and native advertising strategies

Through this study, we were also able to measure the impact in consideration and conversion based on exposure to both Microsoft search ads and Microsoft Audience Ads (native ads) compared to exposure to only one type of ad. Holistically, we found that users were 2.6x more likely to visit an advertiser’s website and 3.5x more likely to convert on an advertiser’s website after having been exposed to both ad types compared to users who were only exposed to the advertiser’s search ad.

This highlights the value and benefit of targeting the same users across the Microsoft Search and Audience Networks. The Microsoft Audience Network is great way to reach net-new users, but it should also be complementary to what an advertiser is doing across each stage of the funnel. There’s benefit in reaching the same user in both channels, at multiple touchpoints, as this has an additive effect in driving site visits and conversions versus overexposure.

More reasons to advertise on the Microsoft Audience Network

At Microsoft, we’ve conducted several studies to understand what advertisers can do to drive greater trust, increase brand value, and build loyalty and advocacy among their consumers. Through these studies, we’ve learned that brands should focus on the responsibility they have to their employees and consumers, that we should shift our focus from the products and services we sell to the values of the consumers we serve, and that by being inclusive we can drive more genuine connections. Brands create equity and ultimately loyalty through personalized experiences while upholding privacy values.

As we move toward a cookieless world, privacy and trust are going to become even more important and advertisers will need a new data strategy to meet their goals. There will be increased emphasis on first-party data to reach consumers and understand performance of marketing efforts. Microsoft’s Audience Intelligence targeting allows us to create this type of measurement as we’re able to connect users across our many platforms. To get ahead of this industry shift, now’s the time to start testing Microsoft Audience Ads. Through our network, you can access the Microsoft audience and meaningfully engage with your ideal customers by leveraging Microsoft’s unique data, which uphold customer privacy and security, about its users and their intent signals. We don’t share our data, and we don’t buy third-party signals. At Microsoft, we pride ourselves on following strict processes to create a private and safe environment for our customers.

If you’re interested in more actionable analyses, seasonal and vertical industry insights, and research, visit the Microsoft Advertising Insights content hub, which is updated weekly. Also get the latest thought leadership, industry trends, and insights by subscribing to the Microsoft Advertising Insider.