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Blog post

The future of visual storytelling with media and Creator tools

June 29, 2022
A woman is sitting at a table and working on a laptop computer.

Ads that include visual storytelling—even within search—are becoming a pivotal component of ad engagement. Our product teams are hard at work developing new products to include various types of image ads such as Multimedia Ads, Image Extensions, and shopping ads, among others.

We realize that images and videos can take a lot of time and effort during the ad creation process, so we’re finding ways to make it faster and easier. Since our ad products include more opportunities for multimedia, we want to ensure we’re offering an easy way to manage them. Here are a few reasons for doing so:

  • 7 in 10 Microsoft Advertising ads include visual assets.1 These ads represent a large portion of prime real estate across our search results and content pages.
  • 1.9x year-over-year growth in volume for ads containing visual assets, driven mainly by growth on the Microsoft Audience Network.1
  • 46% of our active pilots enable visual storytelling, with more on the way.2

This year we launched Creator tools to help advertisers quickly find and creatively edit photos within our ad platform. We’re continuing to make updates to streamline the image process to help you use visual storytelling to create better performing ads. Here’s what’s new with Creator tools.

Sourcing visuals from your website and subdomains

In our recent blog post, we discussed how Creator tools enable you to extract images from your site and use them directly in Microsoft Advertising. But you can also go to different subdomains within a website or use images in your product gallery or a specific page on your website. Now, you can automatically pull them into your ads with just the click of a button.

Creator tools website images selection carousel.

“My clients love that they can pull images from their site, preview them in different dimensions, and see them live,” said Microsoft Account Manager, Kimberlee Mahoney. “Historically, waiting for assets has been a hurdle with Multimedia Ads, but Creator tools allow us to pull images already on the brand’s website. This has made the difference between waiting weeks for asset approval to just a few minutes now.”

At Microsoft Advertising, we see that visuals lead to more engagement, with 7% higher click-through rates (CTRs) on our ads3 —meaning better performance for your brand.

Upload multiple images and optimize

Having a variety of ad creatives is important, and that’s why we allow you to import up to 16 images at a time, so there’s no need to upload them one by one.

An added benefit is while your images are processing in the background, you’ll be able to close the window and work on something else.

Upload multiple images at one time with Creator tools.

When creating Multimedia Ads and other ad types, you can apply smart effects and slightly edit the photos to get the best results for your particular ad. This way, they’ll be differentiated from your website but still have a cohesive look and feel for branding purposes.

“My FinServ clients are excited about the easy options to mockup ads using images pulled directly from the site,” says Senior Industry Account Manager, Ben Hornor. “It’s helping streamline the approval process for creative refreshes, especially since they generally have a rigorous approval process.”

With Creator tools smart effects, you can create subtle but impactful photo alterations and choose from designer effects such as background blur and color, filters, and cropping. What’s more, Creator tools offer image recommendations and help you select the optimal cropping area for each ad type with smart cropping.

View each ad placement or add logos in real time

With Microsoft Advertising, your ads can run across multiple platforms or require different formats, but you won’t have to do any extra work to make sure they look great.

Example of the view placements feature.

With ad preview, you can see how your images will look in different placements in real time. As soon as you add an image, you’ll see a view of all potential placements to then make any necessary adjustments.

We’ve also added a feature that will insert your logo on any image in your desired placement. It’s an option that will help marketers and advertisers continue to tell their brand story how they want to.

In addition to images, we're also adding capabilities in videos. These tools help make quick edits such as cropping your video, trimming the length, or choosing a thumbnail. You can learn more about how to leverage your video assets in our last post. To get started with Video Ads, now in pilot, please reach out to your Microsoft Advertising account representative or contact our support team.

Library to view and manage assets

As brands and advertisers begin to invest more in visual storytelling, we know it’s important that you have a place to manage all of your media.

Soon you’ll be able to manage and see all your assets, sort by name and different dimensions, and make creative edits. With Creator tools smart effects, you can modify the look and feel of your ads in one place without additional help from a design team. The changes you make to images can help your business stand out and represent your offerings in new and unique ways.

Why Microsoft Advertising is investing in Creator tools

Studies and results have shown that images are a great way of communicating and earning attention in crowded digital marketplaces. Terrific images can help your customers immediately understand a message. Because of the impact and value that imagery adds, using them wherever possible isn’t a preference—it’s a necessity.

According to research firm Kantar, content with imagery results in 50% more recall.4 When audiences can quickly recall your message, your brand awareness grows and increases engagement opportunities.

How advertisers can use Creator tools

Currently, Creator tools are available for anyone creating Multimedia Ads or working in the Microsoft Advertising Network. However, these features are evolving and expanding to more products such as Image Extensions and are currently available in the Video Ads pilot.

With these enhancements, we’re bringing the media to the center of your ad creation process. This tool will continue to meet the needs of our advertisers to make your process and job easier.

These updates and more are just a few ways we’re enhancing our offerings to make Microsoft Advertising a one-stop tool for all your digital advertising.

You may also want to read our blog on how to amplify visual storytelling, which features other ad types to help level up your digital strategy.

[1] Microsoft internal data, December 2021.
[2] Microsoft internal data, January 2022.
[3] Microsoft internal data, SMB advertisers. September 2020–January 2021. Holiday period excluded.
[4] Kantar, “Why visuals influence survey respondent engagement,” November 2020 (https://www.kantar.com/north-america/inspiration/research-services/why-visuals-influence-survey-respondent-engagement-pf).

Authors

  • Subha Hari

    PRINCIPAL PRODUCT MANAGER, MICROSOFT ADVERTISING

    Subha Hari
  • Vi Nguyen

    SR PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER, MICROSOFT ADVERTISING

    Vi Nguyen

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