Microsoft Advertising: “We Make The Complicated Simple”

Microsoft Advertising: “We Make The Complicated Simple”

Microsoft has a longer heritage in digital advertising than nearly any of its rivals, having joined the then-burgeoning market in the late 90s. Now, nearly 30 years later, the company is better placed than most in the sector to help businesses of any size navigate unprecedented transformation with the introduction of new innovations like generative AI, rapidly growing channels like CTV, gaming, and retail media, an evolving privacy landscape, and much more.”

Lead image L-R: Tom Dover, senior director and JAPAC partner sales lead; Nicole Prior, head of buy-side tech sales JAPAC; Nick Seckold, regional VP APAC, all Microsoft Advertising.

“We have a long history in advertising that goes way back to the late 90s with MSN as one of the two major web portals back in the day, along with our friends at Yahoo,” Nick Seckold, Microsoft Advertising’s regional VP APAC told B&T.

Since then, Microsoft Advertising’s business has grown and evolved organically and through acquisition. However, many still primarily associate the business with its search roots. Bing with its new market-leading generative AI-powered capabilities, is still an important surface for the company, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Nick Seckold, regional VP APAC, Microsoft Advertising.

“We now offer a multi-format, omnichannel and globally scaled business, with advanced audience targeting, retail media acceleration, and an evolution into a global programmatic advertising marketplace. It’s fair to say we go far beyond the search bar,” added Seckold.

Focusing on “What really matters”

Microsoft Advertising’s business has been quietly growing and evolving into perhaps the most formidable digital advertising business currently in the market. The fact that the sector is rapidly undergoing perhaps its most significant transformation to date — with changing privacy regulations, the death of third-party cookies, growing walled gardens and, of course, generative AI — makes Microsoft Advertising an even more attractive partner.

“I like to take a step back and think about what really drives results for marketers. Microsoft Advertising is positioned to deliver sustainable growth across three key areas,” explained Nicole Prior, Microsoft Advertising’s head of buyside tech sales JAPAC.

Nicole Prior, head of buy-side tech sales JAPAC, Microsoft Advertising.

“First, it’s rich surfaces like gaming, CTV, social media, where are people online and how can we reach them? The second component is about audiences at scale. Third is transparent, measurable outcomes — that’s why advertisers advertise!”

Prior explained that Microsoft Advertising has a nearly unmatched depth and breadth of in the market. Using its platform, advertisers can reach audiences when they’re browsing the web (if that isn’t too archaic a term!), watching connected TV or digital video, shopping online or searching.

“Wherever they are, we can reach them via Microsoft’s properties and buying solutions, such as Microsoft Invest (DSP). But also across partner assets and inventory — we’re all about the open web and enabling our buyers to access valuable audiences on any surface, at any time and on any device,” she added.

There’s more, though. With Microsoft Advertising’s set of tools, marketers can truly reach the right customer and the right time — something the former UM and Mediacom executive describes as “the Holy Grail.”

“Marketers build all these wonderful assets to sell a product or build brand awareness. And you can access any consumer at any point in the consumer journey via Microsoft Advertising,” explained Prior.

Integration, integration, integration

Of course, many in the adtech world will describe their products in the same terms, though perhaps not with Prior’s zeal. What makes Microsoft Advertising different is the integration between the different parts of the broader Microsoft ecosystem. There are no other companies that have such rich customer data that can be plugged into so many different digital marketing platforms.

“On the adtech side of the business, we’ve had a fully integrated solution for over 15 years,” said Tom Dover, a senior director and JAPAC partner sales lead at Microsoft Advertising.

Tom Dover, senior director and JAPAC partner sales lead, Microsoft Advertising.

“In the programmatic advertising space, we are more than just a DSP, we are more than just an SSP. That suite includes Microsoft Invest, which is our DSP, Microsoft Monetize, which includes our SSP and ad server, and our marketplace-enabling technology Microsoft Curate. It means that huge enterprise-level organisations can manage their media businesses in one place. But those integrations do then work for medium and small businesses, too.”

In fact, at a time when the digital marketing and advertising landscapes are changing rapidly, Microsoft Advertising has maintained a commitment to helping its clients through the transition. For Dover, the challenging times facing publishers are of particular interest.

“They’ve got fantastic inventory, and they need it to be visible and identified alongside premium content. They need buyers to be able to understand how and when to buy it. But the thing that sets Microsoft Advertising apart is that we can bring demand from a variety of places.

“If I’m a publisher using Microsoft Monetize, now I can access Microsoft Invest demand, the Microsoft Audience Platform and LinkedIn demand that will be matched to a Microsoft audience. That’s super powerful because every publisher wants an incremental audience.”

That proprietary audience, Dover explained spans the entire marketplace and is fed by the surfaces that consumers interact with Microsoft on — whether it’s Edge, Xbox, Bing or Windows. Microsoft Advertising also has access to some of the biggest clients in the world, such as Netflix and Activision Blizzard, giving publishers a “halo effect,” according to Dover.

Scaling for success

The scale of Microsoft Advertising’s platform is remarkable — even in a sector as known for producing mind-boggling statistics as adtech. Through Microsoft Invest alone, there are nearly 200,000 direct brands, 2,700 video buyers and more than 100,000 B2B following its acquisition of Xandr. What’s more, Microsoft Invest is built on the same stack as its SSP, Microsoft Monetize, ensuring there is a 100 per cent match rate between buyers and sellers — something that has eluded the adtech world for far too long.

At the same time, that scale can seem daunting to smaller players in the advertising space. However, Seckold explained that Microsoft Advertising has worked hard to service advertisers of all sizes.

“We provide the same advanced tools and resources to all advertisers, regardless of their size or level of sophistication, to help them achieve their goals and succeed,” said Seckold.

“Advertising has been seen as the domain of the biggest brands in the world thanks to TV and large format out-of-home. But we’re giving advertisers large and small access to the same inventory through the Microsoft Advertising Platform, and making it easy to scale their campaigns across borders in close to 180 markets. If you’re an SMB and you want to advertise on Netflix, you can!” said Seckold.

“SMBs are the lifeblood of the economy, and we want to make sure that they’re thriving here in Australia.”

But perhaps the main benefit that Microsoft Advertising offers advertisers, publishers, and, indeed consumers, is reliability. At a time when so much is changing, Microsoft Advertising is proving a stable but growing platform that offers accurate and transparent measurement, access to premium publishers, deep and genuinely useful audience segmentation, and market-leading AI tools.

“There’s so much choice, it’s so hard to reach audiences but we can provide reach, scale, accountability, ROI and an alternative. Not everybody spends all their time in one place and if 80 per cent of your media buys are focused on the top two platforms, there is an entire audience you’re missing,” said Prior.

“We make the complicated simple.”

If you are struggling with reach, scale, measurement or improving ROI, click here for more information on how Microsoft Advertising’s omni-channel offering can help you.

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