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Empowering small and midsize businesses for growth with generative AI

May 08, 2024
Two people smiling looking at a cell phone. One person is holding a tablet.

AI has quickly become the next big wave of technology with the power to increase operational efficiency, improve sales and marketing, and improve customer and employee retention. For small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), these advantages are not just beneficial but also pivotal for growth. Despite the challenges of rising costs, and economic volatility, SMBs are well-positioned to navigate these uncertainties with AI as a powerful ally, paving the way for a future with greater growth.

Even prior to the introduction of generative AI innovations, Microsoft set out to understand the unique situation small businesses face by surveying over 3,000 SMBs across 10 countries. In examining the relationship between SMBs’ technology adoption, technology partners, and business results, a key finding was the connection between early adoption of technology with achieving business objectives.

Image of attitude to technology adoption on change in annual revenue.

Businesses identified as early adopters of technology are 1.9X more likely to have higher revenue growth over the past year, 1.3X more likely to have improved brand awareness and therefore grew their customer base, 1.5X more likely to have improved employee satisfaction.1

Another key finding was the role and importance of technology partners. Early adopters of AI technology represent 17% of SMBs and they focus on trying to use the latest technology in their business. Unlike technology laggards, early adopters were 7X more likely to view collaboration with technology partners as essential to achieving their objectives.1

If early adoption of technology and collaboration with technology partners is crucial, where do SMBs go from here?

At Microsoft Advertising, we’re keenly aware of the opportunity AI presents to small and midsized businesses. We've made investments to empower SMBs to exceed their business objectives. After all, we're in the business of empowering yours!

  • Reach new audiences you won’t find on other platforms – we’ve built an ecosystem to better fuel SMB growth and transformed into a global multi-channel advertising solution with a more robust Microsoft Advertising Network of audiences and placements.
  • Use generative AI to accelerate your creativity and insights – we are enabling advertisers to wield generative AI to improve productivity, performance and growth.
  • Receive support from an expert – we’ve expanded how we support and partner with advertisers on their terms.

Reach new audiences you won’t find on other platforms

In case you missed it, Microsoft Advertising has undergone its own transformation. From a global search supplier to a multi-channel digital advertising solution to help advertisers of all sizes access their audiences as they search, work, stream and play across Microsoft properties – and beyond.

In fact, the Microsoft Advertising Network reaches over 1 billion high-spend, highly engaged consumers globally. We’ve built an advertising solution that helps you engage audiences with search, shopping, native, display, video, CTV, and retail media placements, across our owned Microsoft properties, exclusive partner sites, and the open web.

A pie chart showcasing all Microsoft Advertising Platform products and its features.

We’re also revolutionizing how people find answers and make decisions with Microsoft Copilot, our generative AI-powered chat. Earlier this year, we reached 5 billion chats2 in Microsoft Copilot and the number of journeys including Microsoft Copilot have grown 4X faster than traditional search alone.3 And during our recent earnings call, we announced that Bing had surpassed 140 million daily active users. For small and midsize businesses, this means being able to reach customers in an innovative new engagement channel, with ads in Microsoft Copilot. Advertisers can easily extend popular search ad formats—such as text ads, shopping campaigns, and multimedia ads into the Microsoft Copilot experience. Advertisers are seeing a 30% lift in clickthrough rate when a journey included both search and Microsoft Copilot.3

Use generative AI to accelerate your creativity and insights

We recognize that especially small businesses, but also midsize businesses, deal with certain barriers more acutely than larger enterprises, like access to finance, lack of time, skills shortages, and competing priorities. This is why we’ve made significant investments in the Microsoft Advertising Platform to help level the playing field with AI.

  • Simpler user experience for advertisers – We’ve launched a redesigned Microsoft Advertising Platform to be more intuitive and user-friendly, especially for small businesses. In addition to our simplified design and goal-based campaign creation flow, every user has access to Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, your AI companion for digital advertising. With Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, managing your advertising campaigns is effortless. Leverage tailored recommendations for your images, headlines and descriptions and easily access always available support.
  • All-in-one, multi-channel campaigns – With our expansive Microsoft Advertising Network, we wanted to make it easier for advertisers to launch and manage campaigns across a multitude of formats, placements, and customer journeys. Performance Max campaigns bring together our best automation and AI features to create a multi-channel campaign across search, shopping, audience placements that optimizes for conversions to maximize ROI.
  • Saves valuable time and effort – Microsoft Advertising has always offered import tools to quickly get an existing campaign up-and-running. But now, we’ve integrated generative AI into the campaign creation flow with Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform to boost productivity when building a new campaign such as Performance Max. When you provide a website URL, Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform automatically recommends image and copy assets for your campaign, so you never have to start from scratch again. Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform also has built-in tools that help you refine recommended assets. For campaign assets, you can provide a text prompt to re-theme your recommendations. For copy, you can click a button to refine the tone, find similar copy, or generate re-written options.
Image of the Microsoft Advertising Platform asset creation interface.
  • Affordably amplify your creative capabilities – For small businesses, commissioning custom images for marketing campaigns can often feel out of reach, either from a budgetary standpoint or skills gap. With Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, any business can stand out in their marketing, because generative AI empowers anyone to create beautiful, custom imagery with a text prompt. Likewise, Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform gives any team access to copywriting capabilities.
Example of Copilot generating an image of a couple enjoying a walk around Edinburgh.
  • Personalization powered by AI – Communicating the right message, visual, and call-to-action at the right time to the right audience is key to optimizing performance. These campaign settings let AI do the work for you. Predictive Targeting allows advertisers to target audiences based on audience intent. We use our audience intelligence signals to match your ads with relevant audiences, which also helps you find new audiences that you may not have considered targeting, who are more likely to convert. Performance Max campaigns in Microsoft Advertising are built with these predictive tools—in addition to the asset recommendations to help you personalize the right messages to show in your ads based on audience intent.
  • Unlock new opportunities – Your AI-powered Performance Max campaigns are designed to find the highest-ROI conversion opportunities for your business, but there are some additional tools to help you get the most out of any budget. You can look at Performance Max reports to see how your top assets are performing, and in the next few weeks, Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform will also be able to provide a campaign performance summary in chat.

These are some of the AI-powered features we’ve been developing to enable growth for small businesses. At their core, they simply help advertisers take advantage of the Microsoft Advertising Network with more ease, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Quote from Temesgen Zerighaber: Overall I have been impressed with the way Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform has helped with building ad copy that is both refreshing and relevant.

Receive support from an expert

While adopting new technology can feel like a leap of faith, early adopters have found value in collaborating with technology partners directly to identify and solve their business challenges. At Microsoft Advertising, we’re here to help all SMBs become early adopters by providing personalized support in several modalities to meet the needs of SMBs on their own terms.

  • Always-on support – Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is a 24/7 digital advertising assistant that provides real-time support. Accessible in the search bar, help section, and a standalone button in the navigation, Copilot in Microsoft Advertising Platform is always there to provide answers instantaneously.
  • Personalized Partnership – Our global team of experts are also available to provide personalized partnership and consultations at any time. We offer friendly, free-of-cost onboarding and optimization services. You can always reach out directly to discuss how to solve a marketing, budgetary, or technical challenge. We’re here to empower you. Contact an expert or sign up.

Discover new possibilities

Running a successful SMB in today’s digitally competitive world is challenging, especially when it comes to identifying the right solutions for achieving your advertising and marketing goals. That’s why we’re excited to announce our new Microsoft Advertising website, showcasing our full suite of solutions including Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, making it easier than ever to quickly identify and implement the tools that will most effectively reach your target audience, optimize your campaigns, and connect and grow your business.

This new more user-friendly, accessible experience streamlines the discovery process to quickly get you started with taking your advertising goals to the next level. Easily access the information you need to discover our full range of solutions, delve into educational resources to enhance your product knowledge, and access your campaigns—all from one easy location.

With enhanced support, expert guidance, and complimentary consultations, we're committed to empowering SMBs with both personalized assistance and advanced AI capabilities.

How will you embrace AI?

We’re deeply committed to helping businesses of all sizes embrace AI to drive growth. Our ambition is to be more than a technology provider to small and midsize businesses, but rather a growth provider. We encourage you to start or catalyse your journey with adopting AI by contacting one of our experts to map out your plan.

Please join us for our virtual event ‘Embracing AI: Empowering growth for businesses of all sizes’ (on-demand), where you can get a demo and best practices for some of our AI-powered features, including Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform and Performance Max. Secure your spot today!

[1] Microsoft study: Small and medium-sized businesses growing fast by embracing digital technologies - The Official Microsoft Blog
[2] Microsoft internal data, FY24 Q2 earnings report, January 2024.
[3] Proprietary Microsoft Advertising Source Data (US), Bing Chat vs. Traditional Search - Main Line only. Data from 2/07/23 – 7/19/23​


  • Kenneth Andrew


    Kenneth Andrew
  • Linda Shi


    Linda Shi

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