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How to Create a Microsoft Advertising Audience Ads Campaign

How to Create a Microsoft Advertising Audience Ads Campaign

Microsoft Advertising's Audience ads campaigns are a fantastic way to reach your target audience with Multimedia ads as they explore the internet and Microsoft-owned properties. We all know how important it is to reach potential customers outside of Search results to help build brand awareness and influence consideration, and by running Audience ads, you can do just that!

But how do you create your first Audience ads campaign?

Here's a step-by-step guide on creating an Audience Ads campaign in Microsoft Advertising.

Setting Up Audience Ads Campaign in Microsoft Advertising

Step 1 - Select 'Audience ads' during your new campaign creation

A nice straightforward step to start you off

Click 'Create Campaign' - Select the campaign's goal (such as website visits or website Conversions) - and you'll be presented with the option to create either Search ads or Audience ads. We'll be choosing the latter.

Create Campaign in Audience Ads Campaign of Microsoft Advertising
Above: Select 'Audience ads' during your campaign creation

Step 2 - Give your campaign a name and set a budget

Once you've given your campaign a name, it's time to choose your budget.

I recommend starting with a small budget to see how this campaign type performs. There's no harm in starting with a more reserved spend, as once you have optimised it and are happy with its results, you can easily amend the budget at a later date.

setting a budget - audience ads campaign for microsoft advertising
Above: Name your campaign and give it a budget

Step 3 - Choose your Audience targeting

This is the most important part of setting up your campaign - choosing the audience you want your ads to be shown to. If you don't add targeting to this section, your ads will be eligible to show to absolutely anyone!

Here it would be best to consider who your target audience is and implement targeting options encompassing this persona.

Targeting options include:

- Location

- Age and Gender

- Audience (Remarketing Lists, Dynamic Remarketing Lists, Similar Audiences, In-market Audiences, Customer Match Lists and Combined Lists)

- Company, Industry and Job Function (via LinkedIn profile targeting)

You can also add exclusions too, for example, excluding a Customer Match List of your existing customers.

targeting - Audience ads campaign in Microsoft Advertising
Above: Targeting options available for Audience ads in Microsoft Advertising

You may want to separate some of your targetings into different ad groups, for example, a 'Cold Audience' vs 'Remarketing', to tailor your ad messaging more specifically to that particular group.

Step 4 - Create a Multimedia ad

Multimedia ads are a responsive ad format that allows you to use text and image assets. Essentially they are Microsoft's version of Google's Responsive Display Ads.

You're going to want to spend the time to put out the best ad possible, which may mean spending a bit more time curating your text and image assets and utilising all available asset options:

- Up to 15 short headlines (max 30 characters)

- Up to 5 long descriptions (max 90 characters)

- Up to 5 ad texts (max 90 characters)

- Up to 16 images - no need for logos

- 1 business name (max 25 characters)

Mutimedia ad - audience ads campaign microsoft advertising
Above: Creating a Multimedia ad in Microsoft Advertising

Remember that when creating Responsive ads, you need to feed the machine with high-quality assets to have the best available options to create effective ads. It can only use what you provide it, so take the time to source your image assets and write your text options.

Don't rush the ad creation process.

Step 5 - Choose your settings

The last step to creating your first Audience ads campaign is selecting your Bid Strategy and what Conversions you want to be considered for this campaign.

The Bid Strategy options currently available are Enhanced CPC, CPC and CPM, and you can define a default bid underneath.

When deciding what Conversions you want the campaign to consider, consider how you want to guide the system and what Conversions reflect what you want to achieve through the campaign. For example, you might not include a 'Newsletter' sign-up as a Conversion for your campaign if the primary objective of your campaign is to drive leads.

Bid strategy + budget - audience ads campaign microsoft advertising
Above: The last step is selecting your Bid Strategy and what Conversion you want to be considered for the campaign

Other settings are available, including Bid Adjustments and Ad Schedule, which you can implement should you wish to have more control over who sees your ads and when they are running.

Next steps

Now that the campaign is up and running, your next step is to optimise it once you have sufficient data, although, granted, the options available to do so are limited.

Unfortunately, unlike the Google Ads Responsive Display Ads assets report, there is no such feature available in Microsoft Advertising, meaning that there is no way for you to evaluate which assets have been performing or underperforming.

Instead, your optimisations need to be based more on 'instincts', such as updating an image asset you aren't confident in with a new higher quality alternative or switching out a headline you don't feel relates to your target audience. It goes against everything we do as marketers to make decisions based on instinct and not data, but unfortunately, an asset report isn't available just yet. My fingers are crossed that this is in the pipeline!

Other optimisations include improving your audience targeting, such as updating your Customer Match Lists and layering further targeting options on top of your current selections.

Final thoughts

Audience ads are very similar to Google's Display Network ads in that they generate cheap brand awareness and allow advertisers to experiment with more visual-based ads. Reaching potential customers outside of Search results is an essential strategy for any business wanting to expand their reach.

Their setup is relatively easy, with the most important aspects being the selection of audience targeting and creating the multimedia ads themselves. Microsoft Advertising has made the setup process incredibly smooth, presenting an excellent opportunity for advertisers to try something new!


Sophie Logan isn't only the amazing writer of this piece but she was also one of our speakers of our February PPC event. Watch her talk on Micrsoft Advertising Audience Network here.

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