Microsoft touts LinkedIn, Graph API and AI foundations of its new Bing ad service

Microsoft's new Audience Network service will use data not just from Bing, but also MSN, Outlook.com and Edge, to give advertisers more ways to target their potential customers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is touting its new Audience Network marketing service as making use of some of its core assets, including the Microsoft Graph and LinkedIn profile information.

Credit: Microsoft

Like every Microsoft service these days, Microsoft Audience Network also is "AI-powered" and makes use of machine learning, according to a May 3 blog post announcing the service. (The relevancy matching, pricing and click/conversion prediction are examples of the AI capabilities Microsoft is promising.)

The Microsoft Audience Network will use data not just from Bing, but also from other Microsoft properties, including MSN, Outlook.com, the Edge browser and "select high quality partner sites," officials said.

Microsoft officials said the Audience Network gives advertisers a "smarter way to target your ideal customer." Advertisers can use customer intent, customer profiles and/or location/device to target specific customer groups. (Some of these features, such as targeting by product audiences and targeting using LinkedIn profile information are available only to those in a closed pilot test, according to the company's web page.

The Microsoft Graph, which is Microsoft's centralized application programming interface to which the company is connecting more and more of its products and services (plus some third-party services), provides the information about search and web activity, LinkedIn profile data and demographics data, Microsoft's page says.

Microsoft, since it bought LinkedIn in 2016, has been promising to connect its own Graph and the LinkedIn Graph. So far, however, Microsoft has been allowing LinkedIn to work on improving its own business, rather than pushing its $26 billion acquisition to integrate with and use more Microsoft products/services/assets.

Search advertising is a growing business for Microsoft. In its latest quarter (Q3 FY'18), search advertising contributed $1.8 billion in revenues, which is more than a number of its other businesses. Search advertising revenue was up $610 million, or 13 percent, over the comparable year-ago quarter, due to higher revenue per search and greater search volume.

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