A year and a half ago, changes to Microsoft’s adCenter interface appeared maybe once or twice a quarter. This year, stay tuned for monthly updates bringing everything from Broad Match Modifier, a desktop version for the Mac, a special version for small businesses, and more integrated interactive ads on Bing.
“When we talk about the 2012 spring release, which started in January and will continue through the June timeframe, we’ll get into a monthly cadence of launching capabilities to the market,” David Pann, general manager for Microsoft Advertising’s Search Network told me. “[This will be] both at the advertiser level and in changing relevance algorithms — matching, ranking, pricing, the black box. We’re making these changes giving advertisers more control and greater transparency.”
Following, a few of the enhancements coming up in the next few months:
Broad Match Modifier
Microsoft announced in a blog post today that it is testing this feature. Similar to Google’s Broad Match Modifier, this targeting feature will allow advertisers to create keywords with greater reach than phrase match and more control than broad match.
AdCenter Express (For Small Businesses)
Similar to AdWords Express, Google’s simplified product aimed at small businesses, Microsoft will roll out a product that automates the process somewhat, aiming to ease and improve the experience for small business marketers, many of whom have plenty of additional responsibilities, in addition to marketing. Too many times, Pann said, small businesses set up campaigns but don’t have time to monitor them closely or tweak them, meaning they often are disappointed by results.
“Not only are they running restaurants or plumbing businesses, we’ve told them they need to be search engine marketing experts,” Pann said.
The new offering will start beta testing later this year and will officially launch at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, according to Pann.
More Rich, Integrated Ads In Bing
“[We're developing] richer kind of ad units that look more like content in context and allow us to help the user to complete a task and engage with an advertiser or merchant. as simply as possible,” said Pann.
As an example of things to come in the next three to six months, Pann pointed to current integrations such as the Open Table reservations functionality, which displays “Reservations” next to search results when users search for a specific restaurant. Hovering over over the word brings up a window where people can select a date, time and number of diners, and then be delivered to a specialized landing page on OpenTable.com.
Some of these integrations may be exclusive partnerships, such as OpenTable, while others could be part of the auction, judged on bid price and relevancy like any other advertisement — somewhat similar to Google’s product listing ads.
“If you as a consumer, were doing research on a product or thinking about buying it, rather than going to advertiser’s site to complete the transaction,” Pann said. “You could put it into the shopping cart directly from the Bing experience.”
Dynamic Location Extensions and Sitelink Extensions
Advertisers that have multiple locations will be able to set up ads that serve the most relevant result — i.e. the closest location — to consumers. Alongside the standard text ad, the closest business address and an optional phone number can be displayed.
Pann said sitelink extensions, presumably similar to Google’s product, is in a pilot stage now, and will probably roll out widely in the fall.
More Detailed Quality Score Data
Pann says advertisers will soon be able to get data on their quality scores for various match types and for mobile-only targeted ads.
“We’re giving them much more detailed data so they can improve their performance in the marketplace,” he said.
Desktop Tool For The Mac
Yes, Microsoft is developing desktop software to manage adCenter from the Macintosh.
“That’s something we’ve clearly heard from customers and we are going to be able to support that.” said Pann.