Microsoft has rebranded Bing Ads to Microsoft Advertising as it refocuses its advertising business on personalisation and artificial intelligence.
The move represents a U-turn for Microsoft, which had ditched the brand name from its advertising arm in 2012 when it rebranded Microsoft Adcenter (then a competitor to the much more popular Google AdWords) to Bing Ads. Bing is the world's second-most-popular search engine behind Google.
Microsoft now says it wants "go above and beyond search" with new online advertising products. BingAds.com has been renamed MicrosoftAdvertising.com.
Bing remains the search engine brand within Microsoft products, such as the Windows operating system. Microsoft also offers display ads on its Xbox game console, email service Outlook and MSN web portal.
In a statement, Rik van der Kooi, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Microsoft search advertising, said: "It’s no longer just reaching more people that matters to growing your brand. It’s about making each connection feel one to one."
Microsoft Advertising says it has 500,000 advertisers, while Bing's search share growth has grown for 100 consecutive quarters, according to data from Comscore. Google does not report the number of its advertisers, but analysts from Macquarie Insights estimated that it had four million in 2015.
In the next year, Microsoft is introducing more advertising products with "built-in AI" that are "more connected to your data and your business". The company currently offers Microsoft Audience Network and Sponsored Products.
The company launched Microsoft Audience Network last year. The feature uses AI, audience intent and profile understanding to help markers reach consumers in brand-safe enironement.
It now wants to improve Microsoft Audience Network with new tools to measure viewable impressions, image and image uploads. It will also expand audience campaigns to the UK and Canada this summer.
Spnsored Products, currently available only in the US, will enable brands to boost visibility and drive more traffic for their top products in shopping campaigns, Microsoft said.
The rebrand to Microsoft Advertising was announced ahead of Microsoft’s global partner summit, which starts tomorrow.
Van Der Kooi, meanwhile, insisted that Microsoft would not change its commitment to advancing trust as it brings out new products using data and AI.
He said: "Adopting personalisation through AI elevates the importance of consumer privacy and control. Integrating intelligent technology into the marketer’s toolkit means valuing brand safety and ensuring data security. Trust is integral to who we are and it will always guide our innovation and offerings."
Data privacy is a major concern following recent scandals involving the digital ad market’s two dominant companies, Google and Facebook. Recent examples include Google being hit with a €50m fine over a GDPR breach in January, while Facebook last week set aside $3bn for an expected fine from US regulator over privacy breaches including the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Microsoft became only the third US company in history to reach a trillion-dollar market capitalisation last week, following Apple and Amazon. Last week, the company’s earnings report revealed that its three main sources of revenue were all worth about $10bn and had grown by roughly 30% in the first quarter of 2019: Office, LinkedIn and Dynamics; Azure cloud, server products and enterprise services; and Windows, Xbox and Surface.