Microsoft Advertising Announces Open Beta for Automotive Ads
For those of you who work in the automotive industry, you’re probably as excited as I am by Microsoft Advertising’s latest announcement: “Automotive Ads open beta in the US and UK.”
Industries across the board were affected by the pandemic, and the automotive industry was no exception. Now more than ever, automotive ads need to connect with audiences at the right time and in the right way to keep up with the ever-changing customer buying process.
This new set of ads gives dealerships an opportunity to gain market share and increase auto sales. Here at White Shark Media, we have already implemented them for some of our dealership accounts, and we´ve started seeing increased brand exposure.
Let’s start with the basics to understand what they are, what they look like, and where to find them:
So, What Are Automotive Ads?
In a recent press release, Microsoft explained automotive ads best. In short, they are feed-based product ads that allow advertisers to upload all the attributes of their car inventories (make, model, year, trim, image, URLs, etc.).
These focused ads run on:
- Microsoft Bing SERP right rail/mainline
- Bing image results page
- Native placements on the Microsoft Audience Network
While we all know that most car sales happen on dealership lots, promoting automobiles and services online can make a huge difference and give those dealerships a chance to engage with customers who are just starting to consider purchasing a vehicle.
These ads align with the first stage of the buying cycle: Awareness. Potential customers learn about the benefits of your product and determine how it can make a difference in their everyday lives.
You can leverage these ads to promote new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles. We think that these ads were initially meant to help promote used inventory as some dealerships had new car shortages. Nevertheless, these new ad types can benefit all automotive accounts and help sell inventory!
Let´s Bing It!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s run a search on Bing.com. The example below shows a search for a used vehicle and how the results are displayed.
In this example, I’m searching for a ‘honda civic for sale.’ Notice how there’s a new set of ads on the right side of the SERP. It’s easy to identify them by their label “Cars for Sale”.
If you click on the ad, it redirects you to the specific vehicle’s page. If you click on Images on Bing.com, you will also find several cars displayed in the first row that match your query. It’s important to know that purchase-intent queries for cars will trigger ads. A few examples of queries are “near me,” “for sale,” and “locations,” to name a few.
As marketers, we´re always thinking about the different stages where potential customers can find themselves. Automotive ads help us reach likely car shoppers while they are at the final stage of the purchase process.
One of the most significant benefits of these campaigns is that, similar to Smart Shopping ads, the ads are generated automatically. They reference the data from the feed we upload, remaining accurate as inventory and prices change over time. They help us showcase the vehicle´s photos and costs, allowing customers to address curiosities and browse a dealership’s website.
What Do You Need?
According to Microsoft’s post, to sign up for the open beta for Automotive Ads, you first need to reach out to your Microsoft Advertising rep or use this link to enroll.
Once this feature is enabled on your account, you’re all set up.
You will need to provide a complete feed of the inventory you want to promote. The more attributes you add to the feed, the easier it will be for Microsoft to create the ads and match customers’ queries. Below are the attributes Microsoft recommends including:
Must Haves: Vehicle ID, Title, Make, Model, Year, Trim, Final URL, Image URLs, State of Vehicle (New/Used/CPO).
Good to have: Body Style, Engine, Drivetrain, Transmission, Fuel Type, Interior Color, Exterior Color.
Our Initial Thoughts
Once you have the feed from your client, these ads are easy to set up. Start by making sure that all the ¨Must Have¨ attributes from the list above are included. Since this runs as a Search Campaign, make sure that you check off the following:
- Set competitive bidding
- Add audiences to monitor behavior
- Add negative keywords depending on the type of traffic that you want to block such as car rentals
- Monitor spending as you would for a regular campaign
- Try not to restrict your budget from the start to test the volume you receive from your targeted location
Lastly, Microsoft recommends targeting the whole of the US to allow the traffic coming to your campaign. Feel free to focus on the same radius you would in your regular search campaigns and then expand if necessary.
We have seen a significant boost in brand awareness for the dealerships that have used these new ads. As this is a beta product, we have some questions regarding performance, reporting, and overall effectiveness, but since we are a trusted Microsoft partner, we will continue to monitor performance to discover the best practices for advertisers. These changes are exciting as we are beginning to pave a new path for the automotive industry.
Stay tuned and subscribe to our blog to see how consumers react and what insights our strategists find.