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Blog post

Unlocking the power and potential of generative AI for advertisers and publishers

April 29, 2024

Over the last year, we’ve seen how Microsoft Copilot is transforming how people interact with the web. It’s influencing behavioral shifts that are reshaping how businesses of all sizes connect with their audiences. People are making purchase decisions faster, reducing the journey from nearly 30 days to just over 20 when using Microsoft Copilot. In addition, one of our unique ad formats in chat, multimedia ads, has seen triple the click-through rates compared to traditional search engine results pages. The broader momentum we’re seeing for advertising across Microsoft is also being driven, in part, by increased volume and engagement on Microsoft Bing and Edge, and Copilot is playing an integral role. As we just reported in earnings, Bing reached over 140 million daily active users and we once again took share across Bing and Edge.

Through innovation and partnerships, we’re putting all our assets to work to deliver a meaningful alternative and real monetization opportunity for advertisers and publishers in this new era of AI. Microsoft Advertising is continuing to make strides in empowering businesses of all sizes to unlock the power and potential of this technology. We’re excited to share an update on our progress.

Partnering with Axel Springer to accelerate growth in the era of AI

Today, we’re announcing an expanded partnership with Axel Springer, Europe’s leading digital publisher, that will leverage our collective strengths in digital publishing and technology to accelerate growth in the era of AI:

  • Extending adtech collaboration to the US: Axel Springer will adopt Microsoft Advertising as their ad server solution, expanding their existing partnership from Europe to the US. POLITICO will integrate Microsoft Advertising technology as a comprehensive solution enhanced by Axel Springer’s AdTech management and optimization layer “AdLib.” POLITICO will also be integrated into the Microsoft Advertising Network, allowing advertisers to reach a broader audience.
  • Powering new AI experiences and monetization: Axel Springer will partner with Microsoft to pilot new innovative AI-driven chat experiences to better inform and engage their users with Axel Springer’s journalistic content. The cooperation will further fuel Axel Springer’s ventures in AI, building on projects such as the AI assistant Hey_, powered amongst others by Azure OpenAI Service. In addition, Axel Springer will leverage Microsoft Advertising’s Chat Ads API for generative AI monetization.
  • Enhanced content offerings through Microsoft Start/MSN: Axel Springer is expanding their Microsoft Start/MSN partnership to provide users access to more premium content from leading journalistic brands such as Business Insider, POLITICO, BILD and WELT, reaching millions of users across devices and markets.
  • Microsoft Azure expansion: In addition to extending its use of Azure AI capabilities for AI innovation, Axel Springer will utilize Azure OpenAI PTUs (provisioned throughput units) for scaling on their B2C GenAI productive use cases across several Axel Springer companies. The digital publisher will also transform and migrate its SAP solutions to Microsoft Azure, the trusted and secure cloud platform, to enhance scalability, reliability, and performance across their digital infrastructure.

This multifaceted partnership builds on our mutual commitment to the principles and potential of responsible AI and leverages our breadth of innovation to support independent journalism around the world.

Welcoming our newest Chat Ads API partner

Publishers like Axel Springer, Snapchat and Baidu leverage Microsoft Advertising’s Chat Ads API to monetize their own chat experiences through advertising while allowing media buyers to reach a high value audience demographic with personalized content. These new partnerships continue to bring value to our advertisers as we see growth in mobile click volume and conversion rates across various verticals.

Today, we’re also announcing a new Chat Ads API partner: Direqt. As the first AI chatbot platform built exclusively for publishers, Direqt gives media brands the ability to deliver highly engaging experiences created with their own branded conversational AIs that are trained exclusively on their own content.

Leading media companies including ESPN, The Sun, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, The Independent, and more use Direqt to build, grow, and monetize conversational AIs, helping them unlock new revenue opportunities, grow their audience, and deepen reader engagement. Over 90 publishers are already leveraging Direqt to power their chat experiences and reach over 270 million users through Direqt’s chatbot discovery network.

  • Direqt’s network of publishers generate over 3 billion pageviews per month and reach over 300 million unique users across their properties.
  • Direqt’s chatbot distribution network reaches over 260 million chatters across various text messaging apps, social media apps, and chatbot discovery platforms.
  • Direqt’s users today are:
    • >80% mobile
    • 53% men, 47% women
    • 57% of audience is 34 or younger
    • 25% of audience is Gen-Z

In the coming days, a hand-selected collection of Direqt's publishers will be able to leverage Microsoft Advertising's Chat Ads API, with expanded availability across Direqt's entire network of publishers expected in June.

Image displays a quote from Nick Martin, Co-founder of Direqt.

Bringing Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform to all advertisers

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform. We developed Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform to be an advertiser’s AI companion for creating high-quality marketing easily and efficiently, while guiding users through campaign creation and answering questions along the way. We believe that generative AI can unlock productivity, boost creativity, and provide a real-time intelligent assistant to help you achieve your advertising goals.

As we began piloting these new capabilities, Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform quickly evolved into an indispensable tool for marketers to keep pace with the intensity of work, allowing them to allocate more time to strategic decision-making, and improving their performance.

Aligned with this launch, we also recently introduced an AI powered sign-up workflow and refreshed user interface for the Microsoft Advertising Platform, with Copilot integrated throughout, including the search bar and help menu, to make it easier to tap into the power of generative AI no matter where you are. We have already seen a 29% reduction in support tickets for the new workflow.

Always-on Support

Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is improving the advertiser experience by offering 24x7 in-platform conversational chat worldwide.* It provides real-time answers to your support questions, synthesizes relevant information, and provides direct links to where you can take action. Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is helping new and experienced digital advertisers upskill and get answers instantaneously. If users prefer a more hands-on experience, they can always reach out to their Microsoft Advertising account team or Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform can connect you directly with support agents, ensuring they have the full context to assist you further.

We will soon be unveiling insights scenarios to help advertisers tackle reporting more quickly and easily. For example, in a few weeks, we begin piloting the ability to summarize the performance of a specified campaign directly from conversational chat.

Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform conversational chat answering a campaign performance summary question.

Boosting Productivity

We’ve all been there—staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike. With Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, you never need to start a campaign from scratch. You can invoke Copilot to easily recommend text and image assets for campaigns by simply entering your website URL during campaign creation. Copilot will use your URL to source and draft specific messaging and imagery to populate your asset group. Advertisers always have the flexibility to adjust their assets with built-in tools, like “Refine Recommendations” to swiftly align all assets to a custom theme provided by the user. In addition to images suggested by Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, our image creation tool enables users to create and add high-quality imagery to campaigns in seconds.

Image displays a quote from Sarah Koroma, senior associate at dentsu

Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is saving users valuable time and effort. Copilot is currently integrated into the campaign creation flow of Performance Max, Responsive Search Ads, and Audience campaigns, and we will soon be bringing asset recommendations to your display and video ads to make multi-format omnichannel advertising more accessible.

Enhancing Creativity

Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform boosts experimentation and sparks creativity within marketing teams by facilitating ideation and iteration. With Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, you always have the support of a collaborative partner to take ideas further, iterate on your high-performing campaigns, or develop a new concept from start to finish with the aptitude and agility of AI.

Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform can help users expand the variety of creative assets within campaigns which enables our AI-powered automation to deliver more relevant ads to your target audiences. Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform’s image creation tool empowers anyone to create beautiful images with text-to-image capabilities inside the Asset Library or conveniently integrated into the campaign creation workflow.

Advertisers can also fine-tune their assets either with built-in tools like “Find similar copy,” “Try a different tone,” or “Rewrite” or providing prompts that customize assets to their business objectives and personalize ads for their audiences. In early testing, we’re already seeing more than half of users who engage with Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform to co-create their ad creative are applying their AI-generated assets in their campaigns.2

In a few weeks, advertisers will also be able to refine their existing image assets by customizing background images using generative AI. Advertisers can showcase their products in seasonal and market-specific contexts.

Conversational search is transforming the consumer journey

Every day, Microsoft Copilot is transforming how people search and browse. As search habits shift, the consumer journey within Copilot is evolving and expanding growth opportunities for advertisers and publishers. With more than 5 billion chats and counting, people are using Copilot to explore and make sense of the world’s information through longer, more detailed searches – and by including citations in responses, it’s helping drive traffic directly to advertisers and publishers.

The signals we’re seeing so far show people continue to be actively engaged in this new way of searching with strong growth on PC and accelerated usage on mobile. And in recognition of the transformative impact of AI, Comscore is now including generative AI search in its overall search market measurement analysis. In that report, Comscore stated total market search volume was up more than 5% and saw Bing capturing the lion’s share of growth.1

This indicates the start of a significant change in consumer behavior, and we’ve observed several interesting insights so far:

  • The volume of consumer journeys that now include Copilot is growing 4 times faster than journeys with only traditional search.
  • We're also seeing strong engagement with ads being shown on Copilot compared to standard search ads.
  • When user journeys incorporate both Microsoft Copilot and traditional Search, there’s a notable 30% lift in aggregate click-through rates (CTR),2 indicating that the synergy between search experiences is driving more value.
  • Interestingly, 40% of Copilot conversations initiate from a standard search query, indicating a growing interest in transitioning to more engaging AI-driven conversational experiences. Within these interactions, most ad clicks are for non-brand terms, suggesting users are engaging with a wide range of content and exploring new topics within their conversational journeys.
  • In addition to longer chat prompt queries and chat messages with conversational search, 82% of ad clicks came from short chat communications in less than 60 seconds, suggesting high-visibility strategies can quickly help advertisers deliver an engaging consumer experience.
  • Importantly, user feedback indicates the integration of ads is not negatively impacting their experience in Copilot, underscoring the power of conversational search to more deeply understand user intent and provide more useful and relevant content.

All these positive signals are just the start of exciting growth opportunities for web publishers and advertisers to effectively engage users in this new era of AI. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners and customers as we discover what’s possible with better search.

Join us May 15!

Don’t miss the opportunity to propel your advertising strategies to new heights! Register now for Microsoft Advertising’s exclusive virtual event on May 15, where you’ll discover firsthand how to harness the power of Copilot in Microsoft Advertising Platform, unlock the potential of predictive targeting, and optimize your campaigns with Performance Max. Whether you're aiming to refine your current strategies or explore innovative new tools, this event is a don’t miss. Secure your spot today!

Help us improve Microsoft Advertising

Your comments and feedback are integral to shape and improve our product. You can use the Microsoft Advertising Feedback portalin-product feedbackX or Instagram, and as always, contact Support.

[*] Available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Japanese
[1] Enter Generative AI Search - Comscore, Inc
[2] Journeys including both Copilot and Search together have shown a 30% lift in ad engagement rates than those with only Search. This is not specific to device type or form.


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