Earlier this year, Microsoft announced their launch of an open beta of Automotive Ads in Bing Search. This exciting beta will allow dealership advertisers to expand their advertising reach while also boosting conversions from Image Extensions. The new feature could be the spearhead of a larger initiative to include other key verticals like Real Estate, Healthcare, travel, and more ultimately aimed at helping both advertisers and consumers alike.
In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the new Automotive Ads and their beta in both the US and UK.
Let’s dive in.
How the Ads Work
While dealership advertisers are very excited about the Microsoft automotive advertising beta, many have questions about how, exactly, the ads will work. Here’s what Microsoft says in their announcement surrounding the ads:
“Automotive Ads are feed-based product ads where automotive marketers can upload all the attributes of their car inventory (make, model, year, trim, image, URLs, etc.) and showcase them on the Microsoft Bing.com SERP right rail, the Bing image results page, and native placements on the Microsoft Audience Network.”
As it stands now, Microsoft’s Automotive Ads are triggered in both Bing image search and plain search for vehicle research and purchase intent searches. During the initial pilot program, the ads will display in the right column of searches on Bing, or directly above the images in image searches with vehicle-research intent.
Why it Matters to Advertisers
Advertisers who are already using Google will find it easy to do the same on Bing’s Search Network. This simplicity is essential to time-strapped advertisers looking for a more efficient way to do things.
Plus, Bing’s niche audience means that your CPC budget is spent more efficiently (30-33% cost effective than Google – Bing Info Article). Meanwhile, CPA is lower by 40%, and CTR is 45% higher.
A requirement of the beta is to have image extensions on your ads, but before you balk at it, having image extensions has shown increases of about 10% in conversions and nearly a 50% in click through rate on ads according to these tests.
Bing’s beta also means that different audiences would be more likely to buy (e.g., 52% buying power vs average searcher). This is a big lure for anyone looking to reach new audiences or expand their market share via the Microsoft Audience Network.
Some verticals that traditionally suffer from longer buyer research time — including automotive, healthcare, real estate, and travel — will enjoy exciting new opportunities as Bing continues to roll out new segments with their ad search function.
Here are a few of the benefits of the new ads for dealership advertisers:
- More volume. The Automotive Ads cater to consumers interested in buying a vehicle (who are closer to making a purchase and are in the comparison and transaction stages of the consumer decision journey) to browse ads quickly, providing more eyes for dealership advertisers.
- A better consumer experience. Automotive Ads allow dealership advertisers to put vehicle photos, pieces, and details on display, boosting CTR and attracting more highly qualified leads.
- Automation saves time. Advertisers can now access dashboards with keyword-less campaigns. This makes it possible to generate ads faster and update ads regularly to keep price and inventory details correct.
All these elements combine to make Bing’s beta an attractive option for advertisers.
How to Get Started With the Ad Beta
If you’re interested in signing up for the open beta for Automotive Ads, you’ll need to reach out to a Microsoft Advertising rep directly, or visit this link. Once you’re enrolled in the beta, you’ll need to provide a feed to work with.
This feed should include rich car attributes that will help enhance your success with Automotive Ads. On the ads themselves, here’s the information Microsoft recommends including:
- Essential information. Vehicle Id, Title, Make, Model, Year, Trim, Final URL, Image URLs, State of Vehicle (New/Used/CPO)
- Optional information. Body Style, Engine, Drivetrain, Transmission, Fuel Type, Interior Color, Exterior Color.
Images are an essential component of Automotive Ads. Here are some tips to make your images as impactful as possible:
- Keep them relevant. All images must display the listed vehicle, and be relevant to the ad landing page.
- Use distinct images. To provide variety, use distinct vehicle images for different trims, including vehicles with different exterior colors.
- Offer a zoomed exterior view. This exterior view of the vehicle should show a front view, side view, or back view). If you’re including multiple images, make sure that the first images in your lineup are exterior views.
- Keep them clean. All images included with your ads should be free of watermarks or promotional text.
- Keep the image URL current. If you update the image, make sure the image URL reflects the new image in the ad.
What else should advertisers know?
Here are a few other things to consider as you get started with Automotive Ads and Microsoft Advertising:
Bids and budgets
- Microsoft recommends beginning with a $50-$500 daily PPC budget, since this is the best way to produce results consistent enough for optimization and learning.
- The bids you set should be similar to those of your text ad campaigns.
- Make sure to update the location targeting settings for your ads based on the region you’re targeting. This will impact the visibility of your ads and make them visible to all viewers from that region.
For more details on the rest of setup, visit Microsoft’s Automotive Ads help page.
The Automotive Ad Space is Changing for the Better
For Dealership Advertisers, Microsoft’s Automotive Advertisement beta represents a positive shift. Until very recently, automotive advertisers simply couldn’t use the Microsoft SERP the way they leveraged other platforms such as Cars.com.
As a result, many auto-focused advertising agencies focused on developing workarounds designed to allow them to leverage existing feeds to showcase ads in Bing search and to display those same ads to Microsoft’s audience network.
Fortunately, times have changed. This beta opens up using automotive feeds for auto advertisers using Microsoft Advertising paving the way for exciting opportunities ahead for many other verticals.