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3 min read

Bing Interview: Audiences Not Keywords – The Future of PPC

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

The focus will move away from traditional keywords and toward audiences, according to James Murray, EMEA Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft Bing in an interview with Laura Hampton of Impression.

The keyword based structure of PPC platforms is commonplace in today’s digital marketing world. Creating ads based on keywords, put them into ad groups and group those into campaigns. But Bing could be moving to change all of that, with the introduction of an audience based bidding method, usurping the keyword model we all know.

“We’re moving away from thinking about keywords and are thinking more about audiences. We don’t know exactly what that model looks like, and there are many things that could change that for the future, but I suspect what might happen is that there will be the case where we’ll be able to surface the things that we know are your personal preferences,” says Murray.

“So if we use a travel example, if I’m booking a holiday, it might say we know that you usually book with British Airways, if you want to book a flight, we can get you your normal flight. However, that doesn’t mean that we completely eliminate all other opportunities for advertisers to come in there. We can say ‘hey look, we know James is about to book a flight to New York, would you like to be able to give him an offer that makes your deal more attractive?’, and they might say ‘yes, I’m willing to offer a 10% discount’.

“Rather than advertisers bidding together in an auction, they have the opportunity to talk to audiences and to make decisions based on those audiences. If I’m likely to be a higher value loyal customer then maybe they’re willing to offer me a better value proposition because they know that if they can get me as a customer, I’m likely to be a repeat purchaser.”

But what does this mean for PPC advertisers?

Liam Wade, PPC Manager at Impression, suggested the shift from keywords to audiences is inevitable.

“Modern day users expect to be given suggestions proactively, rather than requesting.

“The keyword isn’t dead, but users will certainly expect to be able to be more vague and for search engines to understand contextually what they’re looking for. So, if I’m male and I’m searching for gym clothes, I don’t expect to be seeing sports bras.

“In 2000, I may have searched for “buy mens sports clothing”, but now I will look for “sports clothing” and expect the search engine to fill in the blanks.

“In terms of how this will affect PPC advertising, we’ll still bid on keywords, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But this focus more on the audience means that brands will need to be able to be much more prescriptive about the audiences they want to attract. Brands who are investing in more detailed audience profiling will be better equipped to take advantage when this new functionality becomes available.”

Laura Hampton spoke to James Murray about a range of topics relevant to search and paid advertising – view all Bing Interviews here.