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MICROSOFT

Top Tips To Get The Most From Microsoft’s New Shutterstock API

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In July, Microsoft Advertising announced its new partnership with Shutterstock. 

This partnership gives its advertisers access to 330 million free images to use in their display campaigns on the Microsoft Audience Network.

The move was intended to help advertisers by saving them both time and resources when creating their advertising. With the Shutterstock API, they can select images and input their copy all inside the Microsoft platform.

If you’re using Google Ads, this guide is also for you as this feature is also available for display campaigns. So, we’ve put together some top tips to selecting the best images using the Shutterstock APIs.

What is the Microsoft Audience Network?

The Shutterstock partnership currently only works for the Microsoft Audience Network, although it would make sense to roll out the API to search images in coming years.

For those unfamiliar with the Microsoft Audience Network, it’s a pool of websites that you can run display campaigns on. It’s made from thousands of partner websites as well as Microsoft-owned programmes, including Skype, Outlook and LinkedIn.

You can find out more about the Microsoft Audience Network here. 

So, let’s dive into what makes a good image for your advertising campaign.

1. Make sure they’re relevant

There’s no point capturing your audience’s attention for the wrong reasons.

Picture this (if you’ll excuse the pun). Someone is browsing through their favourite blog and sees this eye-catching image of someone eating delicious ice cream, topped with all the sprinkles and sauces you could imagine. They see that image and wow, it’s got their attention. They’re wanting an ice cream, so they read onto your ad.

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But your business isn’t an ice cream parlour. It’s actually a nail salon. You might have thought the person holding the ice cream had nice nails, but it’s not what grabs attention and draws people in. They came for ice cream and left disappointed.

2. Think emotionally

People buy with emotion and justify with logic. 

Purchases are always emotion-led. They buy because they think it’ll make them happy, because they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t buy, because they want to fit in with their friends etc. – there are all sorts of reasons.

To make the most of your ads, you should think about the emotions that customers might have buying your product. Then, exaggerate them with your image.

Let’s say you sell baby clothes. There’s a lot of emotions associated with this purchase, including love and excitement about raising a child. You should, therefore, pick photos that convey this emotion, building up the perfect image of a beautiful healthy baby and a loving family.

stock photo family with baby smiling

3. Expressions count

Did you know that a smiling face can increase conversions?

Happiness is contagious. If we see someone smiling, it makes us want to smile. It’s our base instinct to strive for happiness and we’re always drawn to it.

Seeing someone smile in a photo doesn’t just lift your mood, it also makes you want to join them. If your product is making that person happy, then it must make others happy too. A smile can act as a second-hand testimonial about your product, giving your users trust to click and convert.

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Be careful not to go for fake smiles though. There’s nothing more off-putting than people staring at you with a fake Cheshire cat grin – especially if they’re in business wear.

There’s a fine line between a natural smile and a creepy one. Do your best to not cross that line.

4. Colours also play a role

Certain colours can also play a role in enticing emotions or feelings within users. For example, blue can have a calming effect on people while red can show feelings of love or danger.

In addition, colour can also create a tone for your advert. If you choose a warm colour pallet, (such as oranges, yellows and reds), users will naturally think about warmer things, such as sunlight and heat, providing a more positive impression of your picture. In contrast, cooler colour pallets (such as blues and greens), can feel emotionally distant.

Natural pallets can also make your brand appear more professional, while bright colours can make your company seem childlike.

Ready, Set, Action

These tips may seem like a lot of rules, but essentially it’s down to making sure that the picture you choose aligns with your campaign and the emotional response you want to create.

Once you know that, you’re good to go with the new API.

The Shutterstock API is currently available in the UK and the US but is expected to roll out to Canada, Australia and other countries later this year. If you’re using Google Ads, this feature is already available for display campaigns worldwide.
Looking for more ways to improve your Microsoft campaigns? Take a look at some of the most underutilised Microsoft features here and how you can use them to your advantage.

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MICROSOFT

Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

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Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion

Today, Microsoft announced plans to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion. When the deal is completed, Microsoft will become the world’s third-large gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, according to a company statement.

Game franchises from Activision, Blizzard and King studios that are part of the deal include “Warcraft,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush.” Bobby Kotick will continue as CEO of Activision Blizzard. When the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Why we care. This is a giant acquisition for audiences and content production. Gamers will have new options as the industry shifts and continues to evolve. Subscribers to Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio, for instance, will benefit from the launch of Activision Blizzard games into that service. But that’s just 25 million subscribers in Game Pass. Activision Blizzard boasts nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries.

Looking ahead maybe two years or more, the metaverse promises to be an all but limitless virtual reality layer built on top of the internet. Gaming companies already have deep experience with in-game advertising, and the metaverse could take that space to a whole new level. Whether Microsoft has this in mind, we don’t know, but this acquisition boosts Microsoft Gaming’s position as one of the biggest gaming companies in the world.

Kim Davis contributed to this article.


Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. 

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MICROSOFT

Why Microsoft’s Cortana Was Almost Called “Bingo”

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why-microsoft’s-cortana-was-almost-called-“bingo”-–-makeuseof

Microsoft almost named its Cortana voice assistant after the Bing search engine. But, the company changes its plans after Steve Ballmer’s retirement.

While Microsoft discontinued the Windows Phone in 2017, its AI-enabled assistant Cortana continued to live on iOS and Android until March 31, 2021. Plus, it still exists in Windows PCs to this day.

In an interview by Alice Newton Rex, former Microsoft Product Manager Sandeep Paruchuri tells the origins of Cortana’s name and what it could have been named instead.

Cortana Was Almost Called Bingo

According to the Big Bets newsletter, Cortana was supposed to be called Bingo. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wanted to name its new AI assistant after Bing in an ode to its search engine.

Ballmer reportedly wanted all its products to be Microsoft-branded. With Bing being a critical part of its AI recommendation system, it’s easy to make the connection with the name Bingo.

In addition, Microsoft’s AI assistant would be able to use its existing legacy branding to help propel its next generation of products.

Thankfully, Ballmer was on his way out, and his successor, Satya Nadella, had other plans. Not only was the AI-enabled assistant given the green light for release, but it also got to keep its much-loved name, Cortana.

The Role of Halo in Cortana’s Naming

Named after the fictional Halo character, also an AI assistant, Cortana was initially supposed to be just a name used in development. Serving as an advisor to the player character, Master Chief, Cortana is an in-game AI that every Halo player is familiar with.

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Acting as a metaphor, Sandeep mentioned how the development team believed she was the perfect metaphor for their goals, an assistant that was always looking out for you.

As featured in Microsoft’s 20th-anniversary documentary, Power On, Halo plays a crucial role in Microsoft’s history. With its release, Halo was a revolutionary title among FPS games, and it played a vital role in putting Microsoft’s Xbox on the map.

The massive PR frenzy that accompanied the leaked name of the AI as Cortana was too much to ignore. With long-time Xbox players and Halo fans behind it, Cortana became one of the selling points of its now defunct Windows Phone platform.

What’s in Cortana’s Name?

They say art imitates life, but in Microsoft’s case, it’s the opposite. Who could have known that an inside joke among developers could lead to naming one of its products after a video game character?

While Microsoft could’ve named Cortana after Bing, its leak saved us all the embarrassment of calling out Bingo out in public. Although Bingo would have been an interesting callback to Microsoft’s popular service, it doesn’t have the same futuristic ring as Cortana.

For this reason, Microsoft’s choice to choose Cortana over Bingo seems to be the better one. Unfortunately, it still couldn’t save Cortana from being shut down by Microsoft for good.

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MARKETING

Microsoft Advertising Launches Health Insurance Ads

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Microsoft Advertising announced a new ad format for Bing Search named health insurance ads. Microsoft said advertisers are already seeing a 4X increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) and lower costs per acquisition (CPAs) with this new format.

Microsoft Advertising Health insurance ads are “intent-triggered rich placements that provide real-time information to consumers and inspire action, all with no keywords required,” Microsoft said. These are positioned on the right rail of the Bing search engine results page running alongside mainline text ads, you can showcase your healthcare plans more prominently than ever.

Here is what they look like:

click for full size

Health insurance ads are dynamically generated based on the data you specify in your feed file, such as your plan type, the organization category, federal registration status, and URLs. The more details you provide in the feed file, the more information Microsoft can include in your ads.

These ads give you:

  • Customized ads: Submit and schedule your feed, and based on the attributes you provide, Microsoft will create relevant, personalized ads.
  • Improved return on ad spend: See more volume, increased click-through rates (CTR), and lower cost-per-click (CPC) rates.
  • Time-saving automation: With no keywords required, the ads are created by feed files that use Microsoft AI automation and are fully equipped for bulk upload.

To sign up for the beta for Health insurance ads, you first need to reach out to your Microsoft Advertising rep or contact the Microsoft support team. Once you are in the beta, you will need to provide a feed. A comprehensive feed with rich attributes such as image URLs and contextual keywords is critical for your success with Health insurance ads.

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Forum discussion at Twitter.

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