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Leverage brand awareness to drive growth for your brand

February 25, 2022
A woman stands in front of four people and explains something to them with the help of a whiteboard.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

You could have the greatest business in the world, but if your target customer doesn’t know you exist, will it make a difference? Brand awareness is a fundamental piece of long-term business success, but we know that earning it and keeping it isn’t always easy.

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness is the extent to which people are familiar with and can recognize your brand or business. It’s important because consumers don’t engage with brands they don’t know about or understand. Once you create brand awareness, your target audience becomes familiar with your branding and products. They can recall your value proposition on sight.

Ensuring this familiarity with your brand is essential when it's time for a consumer to make a purchase decision. If your ideal customer has never heard of you before, it’s not likely they’ll consider purchasing from you once their search begins. However, if you’re top-of-mind among your target demographic, you can increase the likelihood of your potential customers buying from you instead of a competitor.

The marketing funnel

“The (marketing) funnel is fed from the top, so generating fireworks and brand equity at the awareness stage will ultimately drive higher conversion rates, more leads and ultimately, more sales.”—MarTech1

Marketing funnel graphic description including from top to bottom awareness, consideration, conversion, maintain, and expand.

In a typical marketing funnel, brand awareness sits at the top, above consideration and conversion. The top of the funnel is where you gain the attention of a large pool of potential buyers. Once you have awareness among your audience, you can move them through the funnel into consideration by sharing more decision-making information about your brand in places such as your website and newsletters.

It’s in the mid-funnel phase where you create in-depth content to help educate your audience via your value proposition. This type of content provides opportunities for your audience to learn and interact with your brand. It gives them the insight to feel comfortable with a future purchase.

Audiences familiar with your brand are more likely to purchase from you when the time comes. Once they’ve seen, read, or engaged with your content, they’re likely to move into the lower funnel conversion phase.

In the conversion stage of the marketing funnel, you’ll give those last nudges that convince a potential customer to purchase with you. While conversions could be the ultimate goal for your brand, it’s nearly impossible to gain more customers without a strategy that feeds the top of the funnel through brand awareness.

Ways to increase brand awareness

Building awareness is a critical component for any marketing plan that includes a desire for growth. It’s imperative when launching new products and services and obtaining repeat purchases. That’s why your work in brand awareness doesn’t stop after one sale. You need to stay top-of-mind to encourage repeat purchases and loyalty.

According to Forbes research, the average daily time spent consuming content on phones, TV, and other digital media is six hours and 59 minutes.2 In many cases, that’s more time than we spend doing anything else, including sleep!

So how can you get in front of customers where they are? You could buy billboards, hire a blimp, name a prominent building or arena, or take out print ads in magazines or newspapers. However, none of those methods are easy to measure for effectiveness. Today, digital solutions make gaining brand awareness the preferred route. Here are some ideas you can test out for your own brand awareness tactics:

  • Create content for and with partners and other well-known brands and publications in your area to gain a presence on their websites, social media channels, and newsletters.
  • Ensure that you follow SEO best practices enabling your brand to gain more awareness by being present organically on the search results pages.
  • Develop social and other content with high shareability and, thus, virality. Having people like your content so much that they share it with their audiences is a sure way to gain more awareness.

Within each of these approaches, there are a variety of tactics you can and should take to grow brand awareness organically. There’s also another way. You can achieve similar results with native advertising if you have a budget.

How native advertising can help increase brand awareness

If you’re interested in increasing brand awareness, the Microsoft Audience Network helps you to meaningfully engage with your customers online where they’re spending time.

Snapshot of native advertising samples in different formats, tablet, PC, and mobile.

The Microsoft Audience Network is our programmatic native solution. It comprises high-quality native placements curated through human and artificial intelligence (AI) reviews with brand-safe environments on Microsoft-owned and operated sites, as well as select publisher partners. The Microsoft Audience Network allows you to target your ideal audience and reach them on premium sites where they spend time, like MSN, Microsoft Edge, and, as well as CBS Sports, Fox News, and more.

Our first-party data shows that users exposed to Microsoft Audience Ads engage with brands at a higher rate. After exposure to a brand’s Audience Ads, we've seen that users are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand.3

Users exposed to Microsoft Audience Ads are 2.8x more likely to search your brand.

Microsoft Advertising offers features for you to increase brand awareness through Audience Ads

  • Facebook Import and Google Import: Your customers search around the clock and across devices using multiple platforms. If you’re already running ads on Google or Facebook, it’s easy to import them into the Microsoft Audience Network with a few steps.
Snapshot of the platform that allows you to import campaigns.
  • CPM Pricing: Increase brand awareness by optimizing your native ad campaigns for ad impressions. With CPM, you can specify the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for your ad’s 1,000 impressions (or views). The average CPM on our marketplace is $2 to $6, and you’re only charged up to the maximum amount you’ve bid for 1,000 impressions.
Snapshot of the manual CPM bid strategy selection platform.
  • Video ads: Boost awareness and stand out from the competition with video ads. Video ads can help you capture attention and drive leads for your brand while creating deep emotional connections with your customers.
Example of video ads in a search results page.
  • Audience targeting: Tap into our full suite of audience targeting to reach the audiences at the top of your marketing funnel.
Snapshot of user targeting options, including user intent targeting, user profile targeting, location and device.

In your brand awareness campaigns, you can start by using:

  • Similar Audiences. Grow your base and automatically prospect new customers by looking for searchers with similar behaviors and attributes.
  • In-market Audiences. Expand your reach with curated lists of users that data shows are in-market for a specific purchase category, such as autos, finance, or travel.
  • Audience Network Planner. Find audiences you can expand into where your core target over indexes.

PRO TIP: Use lifestyle imagery and simple ad copy to boost awareness even further—and ensure your campaigns aren’t constrained by budget by monitoring share of voice in your reporting.

If you’re trying to build or maintain your brand awareness, taking simple steps like those above can make the difference between a brand that doesn’t make a sound and one that leads to love and loyalty from your customers.

[1] Taylor, Shane. “Stop Overlooking the Upper Funnel,” May 2, 2019, (
[2] Koetsier, John. “Global Online Content Consumption Doubled In 2020,” Forbes, 2020.
[3] Microsoft Advertising 2021; results may vary for each advertiser based on campaign settings, targeted audiences, and other factors. Lift metrics represent an average of all advertisers with completed lift studies to date (November 2021). These advertisers may be a non-representative sample of all advertisers on the marketplace. Lift measured between exposed users and a control group of eligible unexposed users, with lift represented on a per-user basis. Average user count per advertiser study = 1M.


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