Microsoft Advertising Quietly Introduces Multimedia Ad Unit In Search

Microsoft Advertising plans to launch a multimedia ad unit, where marketers can either customize the advertisement or have it automatically created for them.

The multimedia ad unit is not a text ad with an image, but rather a multimedia ad that marketers can build using images and text. It has its own specifications that can be found on the Microsoft website. The official closed beta pilot begins February 2.

Microsoft will introduce the ad unit as a way for marketers to combine the use of images, text and graphic design to appeal to broader audiences through search engine optimization, keyword research, and strategic link building.

The advertising unit looks similar to a native ad, but serves up in search queries. It offers options to customize the ad, yet it automatically creates a bigger banner-size image that those searching might see in the Knowledge Graph, which serves up on the right ride of a search results page. In other words, these ads can serve on the main search page or on the right rail.

An automated version pulls from predetermined copy, image extensions, and more to create the ad. The recommendations are generated based on the advertiser’s existing images assets, such as image extensions, text ads, and stock images.

Advertisers have seven days to review or dismiss the automated ads. After that they will be auto-applied to their account. They can opt out of the auto-apply at the account level.

Microsoft said that for a given query, only one advertiser is featured in the Multimedia Ads block. The ad, at first, will be served on a small percentage of traffic on Bing in the U.S. on PCs and tablets.

These ads are intended to act as the next iteration of image extensions, which Microsoft Advertising launched a few years ago. The image in the ad aims to capture the customer’s attention with large visuals that showcase the brand and products to increase traffic and sales on websites.

Microsoft Advertising has maintained image extensions for search for several years. During the past year the company expanded on this foundation with multi-image extensions that create appealing, carousel-like ad experiences in the search engine results page. Multimedia ads builds on the work Microsoft has done in the tech stack as well as the desire to innovate search features the ad offerings.

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