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5 Microsoft Advertising Features You Might Not Know About



With Google’s dominance of the search market, PPC advertisers can easily forget to focus on Microsoft Advertising.

Too often, campaigns are simply copied over from Google Ads with no further thought going into unique configuration for Microsoft Advertising.

The search marketers who win are the ones who put the extra thought into tailoring campaigns for each platform.

Every ad platform has tools that set it apart from others, and users behave differently on each service as well.

In this article, I’ll cover five features you might not know about in Microsoft Advertising, some of which are entirely unique to this platform.

1. Action Extensions

Unique to Microsoft Advertising, action extensions add a call-to-action button beside your ad in search results, linking to the landing page of your choice.

These extensions help your ads stand out and provide additional incentive for the user to click.

Bing Action Extension

To set up action extensions in your account, go to the Ad Extensions tab and choose Action Extensions from the dropdown.

You can now choose to set up extensions at the account, campaign, or ad group level.

Create Action Extension

While you can’t completely customize the copy, Microsoft offers many pre-established text options.

You can also change the language to suit your target audience.

If you want users to try software, you could use “Free Trial.”

If you’re offering a discount, you could use “Coupon.”

To drive people to a physical store location, use “Directions.”

View Action Extensions

Ideally, test multiple extension variants against each other to see what performs best.

Only one will show at a time, and you can review the data on the Ad Extensions tab.

2. Review Extensions

You may recall that Google Ads sunsetted review extensions at the beginning of 2018. Well, these extensions are still alive and well in Microsoft Advertising!

Bing Review Extension

Review extensions allow you feature brand mentions from third-party sites, helping to establish credibility via outside sources.

However, note that you can’t just grab a quote from a review aggregator site like Yelp.

According to Microsoft’s guidelines, “individual consumer reviews” are not allowed, and “reviews may only come from reliable, well-established and trusted sources.”

For instance, say you sell toothbrushes. An article from a dental association site, ranking your toothbrush brand as the top choice for removing plaque, would be a potential fit for a review extension.

To set up a review extension, go to the Extensions tab and select Review Extensions from the dropdown.

You can then create a review extension at account, campaign, or ad group level.

Now, define the text, select whether it’s an exact quote or paraphrase, add the source, and include the source URL.

Note that the review text and source name combined must not exceed 67 characters.

Finally, once you’ve added the extension, keep checking in to make sure it got approved.

The Microsoft team is fairly selective about approving extensions, so you may need to check with support for clarity if it’s disapproved.

After a review extension is active, you’ll see performance stats appear on this tab.

You can run multiple extensions against each other to compare data here.

3. LinkedIn Profile Targeting

Trying to target B2B professionals?

Test LinkedIn targeting within Microsoft Advertising to help zero in on the right audience.

To add LinkedIn audiences, go to the Demographics tab.

Right above the graph, you’ll see Company, Industry, and Job Function options.

LinkedIn Bing Targeting

You can now select your desired parameters to add at the campaign level.

LinkedIn audiences function strictly as Bid Only for search campaigns.

The campaign will continue to reach anyone searching your targeted keywords, but you can view data for the LinkedIn audiences and add positive or negative bid adjustments based on performance.

However, when using the Microsoft Audience Network, you can choose between Target and Bid (solely targeting the LinkedIn audiences) or Bid Only.

This choice allows the potential for a display campaign reaching people with a select job function and industry.

4. Competition Tab

Want to keep an eye on how aggressive your competitors are in search?

Often, the landscape in Bing can differ significantly from that on Google, and you should pay attention to the competitive space in both platforms.

Microsoft’s Competition tab offers detailed insight into your top search competitors.

Microsoft Advertising Competition Tab

First, you can see a breakdown of metrics demonstrating how your visibility compared to competitors who showed up for the same search queries.

You can see

  • Impression share: Percentage of available impressions each brand received.
  • Avg. position: Average position of ads in search results (lower numbers are higher positions.
  • Overlap rate: Percentage of times your brand overlapped with competitors in the SERP.
  • Position above rate: Percentage of times a competitor’s ad showed up above yours.
  • Top of page rate: Percentage of times an ad showed above organic search results.
  • Outranking share: Percentage of times your ad showed higher than a competitor’s ad.

Next, you can see historical data in the graph at the top.

Set the date range back to gauge how aggressively competitors have been bidding over time.

You can also flag date ranges where they stopped bidding, as well as identifying seasonal trends.

In this example, we can see a peak in bidding around January, likely capitalizing on an influx of research for the new year.

5. Experiments

Experiments allow you to test performance between two campaign variants.

While Google Ads has offered Experiments for many years, this feature is new to Microsoft Advertising.

For instance, you may want to test if Target CPA bidding can outperform Manual CPC, so you could keep your original campaign on manual bidding and set the experiment campaign to use Target CPA.

Or you may want to test if limiting ad scheduling to weekdays 9-5 drives a better CPA than keeping the campaign active all the time.

To access this feature, select the Experiments tab within your account and click “Create Experiment” to start defining your parameters.

First, select the campaign you wish to use as the control.

Microsoft Advertising Experiments

Next, name the experiment and set what percentage of traffic goes to the experiment version.

You can also choose to either define an end date, or let the experiment run indefinitely until you’re ready to stop it.

Once the experiment becomes active, you can review see performance data on this same tab.

Dive Into Your Microsoft Advertising Account!

If you haven’t used these features, take the time to think about how you can implement them in your account.

Test an action extension to promote an offer. Find a quote to feature in a review extension. Both of these extensions don’t appear to be used by the majority of advertisers and can help your brand stand out.

Identify LinkedIn audiences relevant to your brand. At the very least, layer them on as bid-only to gain future data for bid adjustments.

Take a look at the competition tab; you might be surprised what brands are bidding aggressively for Bing vs. Google. Finally, think of a test for which you can use Experiments to compare performance.

In short, as digital marketers, we need to take the time to learn the nuances of each platform.

Blindly carrying over campaigns from one platform to another won’t help you stand out from those who are taking the time to customize campaigns.

Become familiar with unique features, and test them for your business or clients!

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, August 2019

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Google Search Console unparsable structured data report data issue



Google has informed us that you may see a spike in errors in the unparsable structured data report within Google Search Console. This is a bug in the reporting system and you do not need to worry. The issue happened between January 13, 2020 and January 16, 2020.

The bug. Google wrote on the data anomalies page “Some users may see a spike in unparsable structured data errors. This was due to an internal misconfiguration that will be fixed soon, and can be ignored.” This was dated January 13, 2020 through January 16, 2020.

To be fixed. Google said they will fix the issue with the internal misconfiguration. It is, however, unclear if the data will be fixed or if you will see a spike in those errors between those date ranges.

Unparsable structured data report. The unparsable structured data report is accessible within Google Search Console by clicking here. The report aggregates structured data syntax errors. It puts all the parsing issues, including structured data syntax errors, that specifically prevented Google from identifying the feature type.

Why we care. The main thing here is that if you see a spike in errors in that report between January 13th and 16th, do not worry. It is a bug with the report and not an issue with your web site. Go back to the report in a few days and make sure that you do not see errors occurring after the 17th of January to be sure you have no technical issues.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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Google rolls out organic ‘Popular Products’ listings in mobile search results



Several years ago now, Google made the significant move to turn product search listings into an entirely paid product. Shopping campaigns, as they’re now called, have accounted for an increasing share of retail search budgets ever since. More recently, however, Google has been augmenting organic search results with product listings. It’s in a product search battle with Amazon, after all. On Thursday, the company announced the official rollout of “Popular Products” for apparel, shoe and similar searches in mobile results.

Organic product listings. Google has been experimenting with ways to surface product listings in organic search results, including Popular Products, which has been spotted for several months now. The section is powered by those organic feeds. Google says it identifies popular products from merchants to show them in a single spot, allowing users to filter by style, department and size type. The listings link to the retailers’ websites.

Popular Products is now live in Google mobile search results.

Why we care. This is part of a broader effort by Google to enhance product search experiences as it faces increasing competition from Amazon and other marketplaces as well as social platforms. Earlier this week, Google announced it has acquired Pointy, a hardware solution for capturing product and inventory data from small local merchants that can then be used in search results (and ads).

In the past few years, Google has also prompted retailers to adopt product schema markup on their sites by adding support for it in Search and Image search results. Then last spring, Google opened up Merchant Center to all retailers, regardless if they were running Shopping campaigns. Any retailer can submit their feed in real-time to Google to make their products eligible in search results.

Ad revenue was certainly at the heart of the shift to paid product listings, but prior to the move, product search on Google was often a terrible user experience with search listings often not matching what was on the landing page, from availability to pricing to even the very product. The move to a paid solution imposed quality standards that forced merchants to clean up their product data and provide it to Google in a structured manner in the form of product feeds through Google Merchant Center.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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Google buys Pointy to bring SMB store inventory online



Google is acquiring Irish startup Pointy, the companies announced Tuesday. Pointy has solved a problem that vexed startups for more than a decade: how to bring small, independent retailer inventory online.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Pointy had raised less than $20 million so it probably wasn’t an expensive buy for Google. But it could have a significant impact for the future of product search.

Complements local inventory feeds. This acquisition will help Google offer more local inventory data in Google My Business (GMB) listings, knowledge panels and ads especially. It complements Google Shopping Campaigns’ local inventory ads, which are largely utilized by enterprise merchants and first launched in 2013.

Numerous companies over the last decade tried to solve the challenge of how to bring small business product inventory online. However, most failed because the majority of SMB retailers lack sophisticated inventory management systems that can generate product feeds and integrate with APIs.

Pointy POS hardware

Source: Pointy

How Pointy works. The company created a simple way to get local store inventory online and then showcase that inventory in organic search results or paid search ads. It utilizes a low-cost hardware device that attaches to a point-of-sale barcode scanner (see image above). It’s compatible with multiple other POS systems, including Square.

Once the device is installed, it captures every product sold by the merchant and then creates a digital record of products, which can be pushed out in paid or organic results. (The company also helps small retailers set up local inventory ads using the data.) Pointy also creates local inventory pages for each store and product, which are optimized and can rank for product searches.

Pointy doesn’t actually understand real-time inventory. Cleverly, however, it uses machine learning algorithms to estimate this by measuring product purchase frequency. The system assumes local retailers are going to stock frequently purchased items. That’s an oversimplification, but is essentially how it works.

Pointy said it a blog post that it “serve[s] local retailers in almost every city and every town in the U.S. and throughout Ireland.”

Why we care. The Pointy acquisition will likely help Google in at least three ways:

  • Provide more structured, local inventory data for consumers to find in Search.
  • Generate more advertising revenue over time from independent retailers.
  • Help Google more effectively compete with Amazon in product search.

Notwithstanding the fact that e-commerce outperformed traditional retail over the holidays, most people spend the bulk of their shopping budgets offline and prefer to shop locally. Indeed, Generation Z prefers to shop in stores, according to an A.T. Kearney survey.

One of the reasons that people shop at Amazon is because they can find products they’re looking for. They often don’t know where to find a particular product locally. But if more inventory data becomes available, the more people may opt to buy from local stores instead.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.

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