Microsoft began rolling out Bing Native Ads in beta for advertisers across the United States not long after handing its display advertising unit to AOL. The move creates a transition between search and display advertising that ties in content for sites like MSN.
The latest offering, announced Monday, follows Yahoo into native advertising -- which introduced Gemini in February 2014. Microsoft and Yahoo are not the only companies to offer this hybrid advertising unit. Companies like adMarketplace and HookLogic, which support ads on publisher sites, have developed something similar by combining images and text.
HookLogic, which supports ecommerce sites like Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Expedia and Best Buy through search advertising, estimates marketers will invest with them part of eMarketer's projected $4 billion in U.S. native ad spend this year, helping the company's sales surpass $100 million this year.
Forrester Research estimates that native will become 6.7% of the total online display spending in 2015, rising to 15% of the total online display spending in 2020. The research firm lumps spending into display forecasts, although companies serving these ads consider them an extension of paid-search advertising.
That may be because Microsoft, among others, pulls in historic search intent signals that identify interests expressed in queries, such as content served on sites and interactions like searching for products or clicking links on advertisers' sites.
Through these intent signals, Bing Native Ads offer the same advanced targeting or bid boosting capabilities available from Bing Ads including location, device type, time of day, day of week, and site remarketing.
With the announcement, unfortunately, marketers may find more unanswered questions than questions answered. Microsoft said the interface for Bing Native ads fully integrates with the standard Bing Ads workflows. All the advertiser interfaces, reporting and conversion tracking available from Bing Ads platform are available for Bing Native Ads.
Finally, with AOL taking control of Microsoft's display advertising businesses, does Bing's search ad sales group sell the ads -- or will marketers have an option of buying the ads from an automated system similar to Bing Ads and Google AdWords or AdSense?
Bing Native Ads serve impressions and clicks without additional work required by advertisers, but deliver search-like performance, according to a Microsoft Bing spokesperson. "The ads are sold on a cost-per-click bases, and will be supported by our existing Bing Ads sales teams," per the spokesperson.
The service will become available to all devices across PC, tablet and mobile in the next few months.