There’s Microsoft, there’s Bing, there’s Yahoo, and there’s the Search Alliance. How can any small business search advertiser figure out what’s what? That’s the thinking behind the rebranding of Microsoft Advertising to Bing, announced this week.
Besides the name change, marketing collateral and web sites will incorporate the large beautiful images that the Bing consumer site has become known for — to unify the brand experiences.
“Previously, there was just a lot of confusion around our brand,” Matt Lydon, general manager of Microsoft’s SMB Advertising group, told me.
The branding doesn’t need to be changed for larger enterprises and agencies because they already have account managers at Yahoo, via the Search Alliance relationship, who can explain how everything fits together. However, for small businesses, there was a big disconnect between the consumer Bing brand and what happened when they try to advertise on the search engine.
Small businesses are a particularly important audience for Bing, given the strength of Google AdWords among smaller advertisers. Since many of these folks are acting as CEO, CFO and CMO in their small businesses — not to mention running operations — it’s a challenge to get them to devote attention to a second PPC solution. Microsoft is hoping making things easier to understand will lower some of the existing barriers.
The company has already rolled out a new branded landing page for small- and medium-sized businesses, building on other efforts it’s making to simplify everything to attract these marketers. Lydon says it’s his group’s top priority and one of the top two priorities for engineers, as well.
Part of that effort has been to simplify the sign-up process for new advertisers. Previously, the company had “somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 to 20 pages” of information to fill out to sign up for an account. It took around 20 minutes. “We now have that down to two pages and five minutes,” Lydon said.
Additionally, the company is working to hide away some of the advanced — and more complicated — functionality in adCenter, hoping to make it easier to understand for new advertisers.
“We make them [the advanced features] available, but they [the advertisers] don’t get hit with all that in the initial phase,” said Lydon.
The new branding will be rolled out on web pages and marketing collateral that goes to current small- and medium-sized advertisers first, and will slowly be rolled out to every other communication platform, including those aimed at bringing aboard new businesses. On something public-facing like Facebook, the company will have two separate pages — Bing for consumers and Bing Business for advertisers.