Microsoft Ads is undergoing a significant transformation, with strategic updates to its acquisition platforms and the integration of AI into its advertising platforms. The tech giant is rebranding several of its advertising platforms as part of its efforts to expand its digital advertising business across various channels, including search, native, video, and connected TV. The incorporation of AI into these platforms aims to assist advertisers in automating campaign creation.
Microsoft recently revealed a series of name changes for several of its platforms, a move that reflects the company’s accelerated digital expansion through high-profile partnerships in recent years. The rebranding signifies the evolution of what these platforms represent.
Over the past four years, Microsoft Ads has shifted its business focus towards creating an ecosystem that supports advertisers, partners, publishers, and end consumers. Key developments in Microsoft Ads’ partnerships include the acquisition of PromoteIQ’s retail media solution in 2019, the acquisition of Xandr (formerly Appnexus) in 2022, and collaborations with Netflix and Roku Advertising in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Each of these partnerships and acquisitions has contributed to Microsoft’s increased online market share.
While Microsoft Ads is primarily known for its search advertising platform (formerly Bing), which holds 7% of the market share, its audience and native ad platform offerings have opened up additional growth opportunities. Today, Microsoft’s advertising platform supports a range of offerings, including search, display, native, retail media, video, and connected TV (CTV). With these expanded offerings and the acquisition of new clients and verticals, Microsoft’s strategic expansion is integrating the power of various platforms and services.
The rebranding includes changes to the names of the PromoteIQ and Xandr acquisitions. PromoteIQ will now be known as Microsoft Retail Media, while Xandr Solutions will be split into Microsoft Monetize, Microsoft Invest, and Microsoft Curate. These updates will be implemented throughout 2023, with no immediate changes to ad campaigns, retail media programs, or website monetization services.
Microsoft has also hinted at upcoming AI developments. In 2023, the company launched an AI-powered Bing search and Edge browser, which were well-received. Microsoft now plans to introduce generative AI to its advertising platforms, starting with a predictive targeting tool. Other areas where AI may be introduced include automating campaign asset creation at scale, improving campaign management efficiencies, and supporting a broader set of advertising objectives.
These changes are significant as they reflect how Microsoft communicates the value and offerings of each platform. The simplified and recognizable names are likely to appeal to more brands, particularly large retail brands. The segmentation of Xandr’s solutions into separate offerings will make it easier for advertisers and publishers to understand which platform is most suitable for them.
Microsoft’s rebranding may also be influenced by competitive factors. The Trade Desk (TDD) recently announced significant updates to its programmatic platform, challenging the Big Tech monopoly. As more brands develop and sophisticate their solutions, Microsoft is positioning itself as a major global player, with advertising capabilities in 187 markets and 35 languages.
In summary, Microsoft is expanding its search footprint and differentiating itself from other players. The acquisition of PromoteIQ highlights its strategic focus on the retail industry, offering unique solutions that Google does not currently provide.