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How propensity to purchase can accelerate advertising results

August 31, 2021
Microsoft Advertising. Great relationships start here.

As people adapted to working, shopping, playing and living from home, the once clear borders between “work” and “life” became blurred and now happen simultaneously. For example, it used to be that e-commerce was heaviest before 9 AM and after 5 PM, but now shopping behaviors span throughout the day. And these behaviors — this new way of living — is here to stay.

As work and life blend, there’s a new way to think about audience targeting, and that’s through the lens of a person’s propensity to purchase. Shifts in consumer behavior and privacy are creating permanent changes in how people engage with brands. Every day, we see the behavioral signals working in this hybrid space that indicate a stronger propensity to purchase online. These are signals to which marketers should pay attention.

Propensity to purchase explained

A traditional marketing tool, propensity to purchase is a predictive model on par with lifetime value. It helps you understand the likelihood of a customer’s purchase based on what they’ve done in the past. The goal of the model is to find out, through data, who, what, when and even where a customer might purchase again. Analysts rate available customer data, and those with the highest score — indicating most likely to buy — are targeted for enhanced communications.

Marketers have successfully used propensity models for years. Now though, without all the complex data modeling, marketers can extend the benefits into advertising. This could be a valuable opportunity beyond traditional demographic targeting. It can be like fuel for your campaign — reaching the audience that matters through traditional targeting tools while also optimizing where you can reach those audiences that have a higher propensity to purchase.

The Microsoft Advertising audience

In this new reality across work and life, Windows is a platform that helps people complete tasks within all facets of their lives. As a result, people who use Windows have a greater propensity to make purchases online and are more inclined to make significant purchases across Finance, Retail, Autos, Travel and other purchase categories than the average internet user.1

People who use Windows make up the majority of those whom marketers can reach across search on the Microsoft Search Network, and native display on the Microsoft Audience Network, making Microsoft Advertising the most efficient place for marketers to reach them due to our audience makeup and the exclusive placements we offer.

When it comes to propensity to purchase for people who use Windows, we’ve found:

People who use Windows are often more likely to make a significant purchase online versus the average internet user:1

  • 15% more likely to have purchased homeowners or building insurance
  • 13% more likely to have purchased a car
  • 11% more likely to have purchased a laptop online
  • 11% more likely to have purchased a refrigerator
  • 6% more likely to have purchased a sofa

People who use Windows on the Microsoft Search Network are often more likely to make a major purchase online versus the average internet user:1

  • 38% more likely to have purchased homeowners or building insurance
  • 30% more likely to have purchased a laptop
  • 27% more likely to have purchased a refrigerator
  • 27% more likely to have purchased a car
  • 19% more likely to have purchased a vacation abroad
  • 14% more likely to have purchased a domestic vacation

In many cases, people who use Microsoft Bing on Windows have a higher propensity to purchase online than people who use Google:1

  • 13% more likely to have purchased a car online
  • 13% more likely to have purchased a wristwatch online
  • 9% more likely to have purchased a vacation abroad online
  • 9% more likely to have a mutual or managed investment fund
  • 7% more likely to have purchased a laptop

While the statistics above are from U.S. data, the trends are consistent across international markets, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and more.2

What’s more, people who use Windows spend 72% more online than the average internet user3 and are also more likely to engage with ads to try new offers, which unlocks incredible potential for marketers to be there in these transitional moments that matter.4

Next steps to consider

Marketers who need to maximize advertising budgets should evaluate their investments to take advantage of propensity to purchase and increase the return of their advertising. Three approaches marketers should consider include:

  1. Turn to the Microsoft Advertising Network, which is engineered towards productivity and has an audience more inclined toward purchase propensity.
  2. Choose the categories that matter to your business through In-market Audiences. With In-market Audiences, Microsoft AI (artificial intelligence) and audience intelligence have done the heavy lifting for you. In-market Audiences offer curated lists of people who have been found to be ready-to-buy for hundreds of purchase categories. Learn about how MediaVeille grew conversions and revenue using In-market Audiences.
  3. Put into action your own propensity models on the Microsoft Advertising Network using Custom Audiences. A custom audience is a type of remarketing list that is generated by using your first-party data. Custom Audiences work like remarketing and can be associated to ad groups as target and bid, bid-only or as an exclusion.

When allocating advertising budgets to your marketing channel mix, consider where the propensity to purchase will be greatest for your business. Break your ad budget up into multiple platforms and measure the increased performance over time.

Looking for ways to implement this thinking?

Activating on consumer trends to reach your customers where and when they’re searching and buying may be easier than you think, and we’re here to help. Here are just a handful of ways:

  • Visit our insights page to see customer stories, planning tools, consumer behavior trends and best practices to help you grow your business.
  • Get retail and holiday insights for your e-commerce campaigns on our retail and holiday advertising insights page.
  • Learn how to reach more travelers to help grow your business on our travel advertising insights page.
  • Reference the Marketing with Purpose blueprint for strategies, research, actionable insights and tactics to drive growth through more trusted customer experiences.

[1] GlobalWebIndex, U.S., Q2 2020 – Q1 2021.
[2] GlobalWebIndex, global, Q2 2020 – Q1 2021.
[3] comScore custom reporting, aggregated browser, U.S., September – December 2020.
[4] Microsoft internal data.


  • John Cosley


    John Cosley

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