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Microsoft announced the upcoming release of a wide range of features, technologies, and advertising tools for brands at this week’s Microsoft Advertising Elevate conference. 

Among the tools are new ad units, a new take on private search, and a complete small business hub with built-in social tools. 

New Private Search Features Through Bing API

One of the biggest reveals of the conference is a completely revamped take on private search for Bing through Microsoft, Duck Duck Go, and Azure.

The tools allow publishers across the web to provide more privacy-focused experiences including a completely private search process.

Private Search works by using a proxy between a private search tool, app, or site and Microsoft’s private search API. 

By sending the search request through the private proxy, which removes all individual identifying information, to Bing’s Private Search API, Bing can then return relevant results without technically even seeing the actual search term. 

Price Comparison Beta

Microsoft is launching a new feature for its Edge browser which will deliver available discount codes in a built-in panel. Though the feature is not ready for a final roll-out, the company announced a beta for all eligible individuals using the browser’s shopping features. 

In addition to this, users will be able to save products to Collections, enabling them to later compare prices of similar products elsewhere online. 

Best of all, brands who have already uploaded their product data to Merchant Center will automatically have their products integrated into these new tools. 

“The price comparison feature in Edge is a great example of where Microsoft is trying to provide a great experience for users (find the best deal!) and gain additional exposure for the products in advertisers’ feeds. Consumer research shows that most folks comparison shop at some level and price comparison surfaces this information automatically. It’s a win/win.” – John Lee, Microsoft Evangelist

Video Extensions for Ads

The company announced it is launching a new beta which will allow advertisers to include videos and animations in their ads. These videos appear as a small thumbnail along with other ad extensions, and expand when a user clicks the thumbnail or ad.

Advertisers are then charged if a user clicks on either trigger, though they will only be charged once if an individual clicks on both the video extension and ad unit in the same session. 

Currently, the placement is only available on desktop, though Microsoft says mobile integration is coming soon. 

New Specialty Ad Formats

Property Promotion Ads

Microsoft Ads announced a new ad format specifically for promoting places to stay, including hotels or Bed and Breakfasts. 

The ads currently appear on desktop when users search for hotels or properties with specific amenities in a town or area. 

Once clicked, the ads display information about available dates and prices, with a button to proceed directly to a booking page. 

Advertisers are only charged if users click through to the booking page. 

To be eligible for the new ad format, advertisers must have set up Hotel Price Ads, have at least five images, and have enabled the star rating. 

Tour & Activities Ads

Along with ads for places to stay when traveling, Microsoft is launching ads for local experiences and activities to enjoy. 

Tour and Activities Ads are triggered by searches with travel intent or travel experience-based intent and highlight specific things to do in a location. 

The ads can appear in both Bing Maps and directly in search results.

The new ad format could be a great choice for brands driven by tourism, including theme parks, museums, outdoor attractions, and local food or dining. 

Notably, the ad format is also arriving right as many are finally getting out and exploring again as the Coronavirus pandemic winds down. This could be a valuable tool for standing out among the countless other brands that will be vying for travelers’ attention in the near future. 


As most of these tools and features are currently limited to beta programs, you will have to take some special steps to be eligible to try them out for yourself right now. To sign up for any of the betas, brands or their marketing agencies will need to reach out directly to Microsoft Ads support. 

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Bing has unveiled the top marketing keywords searched for throughout last year, based on their US search data. The new reveal sheds light on what people are thinking of and what the biggest upcoming trends are, with personal assistants beating out the competition.

”Personal assistants and artificial intelligence were a clear priority for marketers over the past year. Advances in chat bots and virtual assistants, such as Alexa, Cortana and Amazon Echo – as well as updates to several smartphone chat bots, were likely drivers for these search terms.”

Of course, Microsoft owns both Cortana and Bing, so it is possible that played a role in the high rank of personal assistants on the list. Still, the popularity of other services such as Siri and Alexa shows that virtual assistants are quickly becoming a major part of the tech and marketing landscape.

In addition to personal assistants, Bing says augmented reality and virtual reality are also poised to play a big role in marketing.

”Virtual and augmented reality came second to intelligence, with the popularity of searches representing the growth of this technology throughout 2016 – and it’s likely continual development into next year.”

Check out the rest of the top marketing search terms for 2016 below:

  1. Personal Assistants/ Intelligent Agents
  2. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
  3. Search Marketing
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. Email Marketing

Bing is launching a new feature specifically for local businesses to make it easier for customers to reach you at any time. With the new chat feature, users can click a link to “chat online with a representative” directly from the search engine.

After clicking the link, you are immediately connected to the business through their primary chat program. That could be a native chat service or other options like Facebook Messenger.

You can see what it looks below:

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In this case, Bing links to Facebook Messenger:

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The new feature makes it easier than ever for searchers to contact your business for questions and concerns. It also makes it more important than ever to make sure your business is taking advantage of online chat services to provide customer service.

As smartphone internet use has exploded in the past few years, mobile-friendly pages and search engine optimization have become the standard, but new statistics from Bing suggests the future of SEO may be all about voice search.

During the Search Insider Summit last week, Bing representatives told the crowd that a quarter of all searches performed on Bing are voice searches and the trend looks keep increasing for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, as users get more accustomed to voice search, it is changing how they are performing searches entirely. Voice searches are notably longer, tending to fall between six and 10 words, compared to just one to three words for text searches.

Part of this notable rise of voice search on Bing is likely because the company powers three of the leading voice assistants in the world. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa are all reliant on Bing to answer voice search queries. However, that shouldn’t discount these findings entirely.

While Google hasn’t released any statistics on voice searches performed on their platform, the company has taken clear steps to invest in voice search for future growth – such as using Google’s AI to recognize conversational speech in voice searches by having it read romance novels.

Clearly, the two largest search engines recognize that voice search will only become more prominent in the future. Likewise, marketers, SEOs, and businesses should start preparing now by investing in long-tail keywords and voice search optimization.

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Like Google, Bing has been increasingly focused on delivering a mobile-friendly version of the web to its growing number of mobile users. Now, Bing has released a tool to help webmasters ensure their site meets the search engine’s standards for mobile-friendliness.

Specifically, the tool reviews your site based on the following criteria to decide if your site is mobile-friendly:

  • Viewport and Zoom control configuration
  • Width of page content
  • Readability of text on the page
  • Spacing of links and other elements on the page
  • Use of incompatible plug-ins

The tool will also notify webmasters if any of the above criteria were inaccessible or blocked, so you can remedy the problem.

MobileFriendly

Like the tool Google offered shortly before it released its “Mobile-Friendly Algorithm”, Bing’s tool delivers an overall verdict as to whether you site would be considered mobile-friendly by the search engine.

NotMobileFriendly

It will also explain what issues it detects and explain why your page fails, if that is the case.

Both Bing and Google’s tools reportedly detect essentially the same things, with little difference between the ultimate results. However, Bing’s tool is significantly faster and easier to use.