The New MSAN Advertising Format: Exciting Opportunities, Interesting Reach?

Microsoft surprised us in the last few weeks not only with a revised user interface, a visual change in the logo and the name change from Bing to Microsoft Bing, but above all with the introduction of the Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN for short) in Germany. But what exactly is the MSAN? What can you do with it? And what does it look like anyway? In this article on MSAN, the feature is to be presented and the basics explained.

General information about the MSAN

The Microsoft Audience Network can now also be used in Germany for around six weeks. Text, image and product advertisements are permitted as forms of advertising. On the one hand, these are:

  • Target group ads that can be used as extensions in existing campaigns and, on the other hand, the new form of:
  • Target group campaigns that are part of the Audience Network.

Images must be stored in the Microsoft Advertising account for target group ads. If you already advertise with pictures on other channels, such as on Google or Facebook, these can also be used here.

If you want to use entire target group campaigns (which are similar to display campaigns on Google Ads), there are a variety of targeting options across the network. These targeting options can also be combined with one another.

In addition to targeting by keywords in the context of target group ads, these specific campaigns can be structured and aligned with the:

  • Place and the device, or on
  • User profiles , which include LinkedIn profile targeting and targeting by gender and age, or also to the
  • User intent (e.g., remarketing, custom audiences, etc.).

Ads are played across all devices and in the separate network of the MSAN – i.e. on websites such as MSN, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Edge. The following pictures show what the advertising format looks like on the respective pages.

Good to know

The advantage of using the MSAN is that potential customers can be reached outside of the search results page. Because the ads (audience ads) are placed in a new search network (MSAN) that is explicitly geared towards the search intent of the users and includes websites such as MSN.

Cost-per-click basis

The ads are billed per click. So it doesn’t matter how often an ad is shown. Because it is not the number of impressions but the number of clicks on an ad that is decisive for billing.

Lots of high quality pictures

In general, the more pictures, the better. That means: the more often different images are shown to the user, the more attractive it becomes for him or her. Seeing the same content every time does not increase the performance of the extensions or campaigns. Diversity and high quality of the image material are in demand.

If, on the other hand, you use the target group ads but do not store any images, images from Microsoft are displayed. The idea behind it is certainly well meant. But to advertise your own brand with other people’s pictures (and that without any control) is not really recommended.

In addition, we finally have the opportunity to cover the first steps in the funnel. That wasn’t possible before.

MSAN is just beginning

The MSAN is still in the starting blocks – of course it is not yet fully developed. So far, only the target group ads can be used.

Unfortunately, you still have to wait for target group campaigns in Germany. Then entire campaigns for search and shopping as well as dynamic remarketing will be part of the MSAN.

But if the Microsoft Audience Network continues to develop well, this could be a great opportunity.

You might be interested in the following topics:

9 Google Ads Settings to Question

The Google Ads Performance Planner in the Quick Check

Video and Display Advertising with Google Ads: Few Direct Conversions, but a Good Introduction to the Customer Journey?

LinkedIn Ads vs. XING Ads: Which Business Network Offers Better Advertising Opportunities?


If we look at the performance of audience ads in our Microsoft Advertising accounts over the past six weeks, the numbers are still relatively small. Rarely have more than 3,000 impressions or more than 20 clicks been generated during this period. Accordingly, the expenses were also minimal. These extensions cannot (yet) keep up with the display ads that we know from Google Ads.

However, if the target group campaigns and dynamic remarketing are soon available to us in addition to the target group ads, we will be able to provide a reliable update on how to evaluate the performance with the MSAN. Because the actual advertising period in Germany for this new feature is far too short to be able to give a meaningful assessment.

In a few months, we will therefore publish another blog post on the MSAN with an evaluation. Until then, you have to wait, test and observe.

the video explains the steps to set up Microsoft audience ads campaign

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