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    Microsoft Audience Network For Growth Hacking 2022: An Advanced User’s Guide

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    Looking to take your growth hacking efforts to the next level? Microsoft Audience Network

    (MSAN) is here to help. MSAN provides access to billions of daily cross-screen data signals, which you can use to create personalized and relevant experiences for your customers. 

    With MSAN, you can also drive engagements across the funnel—brands saw a 4.4x lift in conversions from users exposed to Microsoft Audience Ads! You may already know a thing or two about MSAN if you’ve used it to run native ads across Microsoft-owned properties such as MSN, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook.com. But there’s so much more to explore. Advanced users, like you, can leverage MSAN’s full potential to supercharge their growth hacking efforts.

    Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about MSAN, including how to create high-performing campaigns, how to save time with campaign automation, and more.

    Table Of Contents

    What is MSAN?

    We know that growth hacking is all about driving user acquisition and engagement through creative, out-of-the-box thinking. But sometimes, even the most creative growth hackers need a little help to take their efforts to the next level. That’s where MSAN comes in.

    MSAN is a powerful tool that provides access to over 20 billion daily cross-screen data signals. You can use these signals to create personalized and relevant experiences for your customers across Microsoft-owned properties, such as MSN, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook.com.

    MSAN Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN) encompasses native ad inventory on MSN.com, Microsoft Outlook, and the Microsoft Edge browser to bring you the most efficient way to reach your target audience on Microsoft properties. But it also syndicates your ad to a select group of high-quality, non-Microsoft sites.

    Hence, with MSAN, you not only get the chance to show your ads on some of the most popular websites in the world, but also get in front of your target audience on Microsoft properties regardless of where they are.

    Hence, with MSAN, you not only get the chance to show your ads on some of the most popular websites in the world, but also get in front of your target audience on Microsoft properties regardless of where they are.

    Microsoft Audience Network By The Numbers

    Microsoft claims that users exposed to Microsoft Audience Ads resulted in a lift in conversions by brands. CTR is often a crucial metric when it comes to determining the effectiveness of an ad campaign, as it measures how many people click on your ad. The MSN.com average CTR is 2x greater than on comparable native platforms where advertisements are served on MSN.com.

    Microsoft also says users are 3x more likely to search for your brand after seeing your ad on Microsoft properties. They are also 4x more likely to visit your site, and 5.5x more likely to purchase from you.

    This is not surprising, given that Microsoft has some of the most popular properties on the internet. In fact, msn.com is ranked #3 in the News & Media Publishers category and #51 Globally according to August 2022 data. 

    With such a large and engaged audience, it’s no wonder that MSAN can be so effective in driving brand awareness and conversions.

    Microsoft Audience Network Best Practices

    Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is MSAN?” and have taken a look at some of its key stats, it’s time to give you a crash course in best practices. By following these tips, you can be sure that your MSAN campaigns are set up for success.

    Before we dive in, it’s important to note that these best practices are from Microsoft themselves, so you can be sure they’re coming from a reliable source. Our team may be experts in growth hacking, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of MSAN, we defer to the platform’s creators.

    Here are some of Microsoft’s top tips for getting the most out of MSAN!

    MSAN Network Microsoft: Budgets and Bids

    Bidding and budgeting are two of the most important aspects of any ad campaign, and MSAN is no different. Unfortunately, they’re also two of the most complex topics, which is why Microsoft goes out of their way to provide detailed resources on both topics.

    Here are a few key things to keep in mind when setting your budget and bids:

    • Verify that your audience campaign has enough money to keep going and monitor it as the volume increases. Also, while the volume is still expanding in your pilot, double-check that your budget can handle continued growth. 
    • If you’re not using an automated bidding strategy, you’ll need to monitor your bids and adjust them periodically.

    Those who are using an automated bidding strategy should verify that it’s set up correctly for their goals and budget. If you’re not sure how to do this, our team can help.

    MSAN Network Microsoft: Using Targeting Options

    When you’re editing your targeting options, double-check that you’re not being too specific. By doing this, you’ll be able to see if your campaign will reach a large or small audience. Ensuring that you’re using the right targeting options will also help to improve your campaign’s performance.

    • To get started, use “target and bid” targeting rather than “bid only.” When you first begin using audience campaigns, Microsoft recommends utilizing “target and bid.” This can let you advertise your ad to one group of people while excluding others.
    • After you’ve completed your analysis, you may change the bids on different segments based on the return on investment and even use “target and bid” and “bid only” together. Use “Bid only” to determine which of your current ads you want (or don’t want) your chosen audience to see, but don’t rely on it to find new customers.

    The Microsoft Audience Network is most effective when you use remarketing lists, In-market Audiences, CustomAudiences, or Product Audiences for your initial audience targeting. It’s the perfect way to get your message in front of people who have already shown an interest in what you’re selling.

    MSAN Network Microsoft: Images

    Images are a crucial part of any ad, and Microsoft has some great recommendations for making sure yours are up to par. See below for a few essential tips from Microsoft on creating compelling images for your MSAN campaigns:

    • Reuse your images from other ad platforms on the Microsoft Audience Network.
    • With 1.91:1 and 1:1 aspect ratios supported across the Microsoft Audience Network, Google Display Network, Facebook Audience Network, and others, you can reuse the best-performing images from Facebook or Google (GDN).
    • Use high-quality images.
    • Audience Ads are image-centric. Take full advantage of the premium placement by paying particular attention to the images that you use for your ads.
    • Images should be high resolution — they should not pixelate or degrade across screens.
    • Text can’t be embedded in images.
    • Submit images in all aspect ratios.
    • If your campaign misses any aspect ratios, it may result in fewer placements and less traffic.
    • After cropping, ensure images look OK in all aspect ratios. If needed, provide separate images for each aspect ratio. Test multiple ads to see what performs best.
    • Test different copy and images to identify top-performing combinations. 

    How to Add Stock Photos to Your MSAN Network Microsoft Search Campaigns

    If you don’t have the time or resources to create original images for your ad campaigns, Microsoft also allows you to use stock photos. To do this, follow the steps outlined by Shutterstock in their Microsoft collaboration below: 

    1. Go to your search campaign(s) and click on Ads & extensions.
    2. Under Ads & extensions, select create new image extension.
    3. Then click on add image at the bottom of the page.
    4. Browse available stock images by typing in a search term that is relevant to your product, business, or ad campaign.
    5. Remember that you must adhere to our stock photo policy outlined above. 
    6. You may see a Shutterstock watermark on your image. Watermarks do not appear in the final ad delivered to your target audience.

    How to Set Up Shopping Campaigns on the Microsoft Audience Network

    Now that you know how to create effective ads and images for your MSAN campaigns, it’s time to learn how to set up a shopping campaign. Shopping campaigns are a great way to showcase your products and drive traffic to your website or online store.

    The Adcore process takes just two minutes or less, depending on how many products you want to advertise. You can start your first campaign in minutes by following these five simple steps from Microsoft:

    1. Select Create New Campaign and select “Sell Products From Catalog.” 
    2. Select “Standard Shopping” and then “Audience Ads” Option  
    3. Set Campaign Name, choose MSC store, and select “All Products” filter. We recommend no product filters to maximize volume. 
    4. Set Audience Targets. Any audiences should be layered on as “bid only” to maximize volume. 
    5. Set Daily Budget and Default Bid. We recommend ~10% of Search Shopping Spend as a starting point and a minimum of $2.00 bid to start; hit Save and LAUNCH.

    Before you launch your campaign, be sure to keep the following in mind:

    • You must have an active shopping feed to launch
    • UET is highly recommended, but not required
    • Allow 24-48 hours for delivery to begin ramping

    In-Market Audiences: Set Up New Audiences in MSAN

    In-Market audiences are a way to target people who have demonstrated an intent to purchase a product or service like yours. These audiences can be extremely valuable, as they allow you to reach people who are more likely to convert.

    To set up In-Market audiences in MSAN, follow these simple steps: 

    1. In the Audiences tab, select ‘Create association.’ Afterward, choose ‘In-market Audiences.’
    2. Select the correct In-market Audience for your ad group to link with. Make sure the audience you pick is available in your market area.
    3. Examine the types of targeting available to you:
    • Bid only or 
    • Target and bid
    1. For your In-market Audience associations, select a bid adjustment of at least 15%. Microsoft re-evaluates In-market Audiences every day, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your campaign’s performance and adjust your bids accordingly.
    2. Click Save to finish.

    Similar Audiences: Set Up New Audiences in Microsoft MSAN

    Similar audiences are a way to reach people who share similar characteristics with your current customers. These audiences can be extremely valuable, as they allow you to reach people who are more likely to convert.

    Microsoft removes the burden of finding similar audiences by automatically finding and grouping people with shared interests, demographics, and behaviors from your Remarketing lists. All you have to do is select the audience you want to target, and Microsoft will do the rest.

    The benefits of Similar Audiences are not only limited to increased reach and scale. Similar audiences can also help you to:

    • Reach prospects who are ready to convert: You’ll come across highly qualified candidates you can convert into consumers when you broaden your presence to these “look-alike” people.
    • Drive conversions and increase ROI: Ads shown to Similar Audiences convert up to 39% higher than ads targeting non- audiences.

    Save time with easy setup and automatic updates: Create a Remarketing list for the same audience, then leave it to Microsoft to maintain. You will automatically get updates as your Similar audience changes over time.

    Key Takeaways: Top Ways to Optimize Your MSAN Campaign

    So, what did we learn? Do you feel more prepared to take on Microsoft MSAN? We hope so!

    Here are the key takeaways from this article: 

    • Devices: By including as many devices as possible in your marketing strategy, you’ll reach more people and have a greater chance of finding customers interested in your products or services.
    • Audience Targets:  Be sure to target your ads to the right audience. You can use In-market Audiences and Similar Audiences to reach people who are more likely to convert.
    • Day-Parting (time of day/day of the week):  Try running your ads at different times of the day or days of the week to see when your target audience is most responsive. Microsoft MSAN can help you to reach more customers, engage them more effectively, and drive conversions.
    • Ad Group Bids:  Be sure to set your bids high enough to compete with other advertisers. A good rule of thumb is to start with a bid adjustment of at least 15%.
    • Creative: Use high-quality images and videos that are relevant to your products or services.
    • Partner Sites:  Add as many partner sites as possible to your campaign to reach more people. When you’re just starting, you can use the Microsoft Audience Network to reach people on Microsoft-owned properties such as MSN, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook.com. 

    We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the MSAN experts at Adcore. We thrive on helping our clients grow their businesses through effective marketing campaigns.

    Happy growth hacking!

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