On Wednesday 31st of March, ROAST commenced their latest webinar series, The Digital ROASTing, a series of one-to-one Q&A sessions with suppliers, media partners and platforms.
In this session, John Barham, Managing Director at ROAST sat down with Marion Gould, Account Manager at Microsoft Advertising to talk through Microsoft Advertising’s tips for post-COVID recovery and the platform features and tools that brands can capitalise on to emerge from this period with a strong strategy.
A video of the session is available to watch here, and the key points are summarised below:
John Barham: As we come out of lockdown, advertisers are looking to plan for an unknown future. Marion, are there any critical trends Microsoft Advertising have noticed in the last year that could provide some insight for the coming months?
Marion Gould: Well John, it has certainly been an interesting and unprecedented year for everyone. Back in March, many clients were in a state of shock, they were not prepared and most pulled their spend, not wanting to benefit from this tragedy.
In the second lockdown, however, we saw that our clients had overcome the shock of the first lockdown, and were displaying more agility in their strategy. We saw spend increasing and brands focusing on building strong brand awareness with their audience.
JB: How did different verticals fare throughout this period?
MG: Across all verticals throughout this period, we noticed that the brands who were agile and who took risks innovating with their strategies saw the best results.
One of our clients, Lesfurets, a French Insurance Aggregator is a great example of this. They kept innovating with a new strategy, even from March and as a result, they saw fantastic results and were able to target new audiences.
Ultimately, the more you innovate with your strategy and products, the more you are able to target the right audiences who are actually in-market.
JB: In terms of specific tactics, how have brands used Microsoft Advertising’s features to plan well and mitigate risk during this period?
MG: Utilising our features, our clients were able to be very open-minded and create strategies to navigate this period.
A good example is a client in Switzerland, haar-shop.ch, traditionally a bricks-and-mortar hair salon, the client demonstrated their agility, taking advantage of the situation by selling their products online and opening a new online revenue stream as a result.
In general, our clients have been able to use Microsoft Advertising’s automation features DSA and RSA, to ensure they are actually reaching the right audience, something that has been critical during this time.
JB: With so much turbulence, have advertisers been leaning on their Microsoft Advertising account teams for more sophisticated setups?
MG: At the minute, things are very hard to predict, however at Microsoft we empower our clients with insight and support. One way we have been doing this is through the COVID-19 hub and guides.
We are pushing our clients to use automation features, providing them support through tools such as DSA and RSA, ultimately freeing up time for their teams to focus on their strategies.
JB: Have you seen an uplift in the use of automation in the last year?
MG: Yes definitely. A key example is one of our clients Hotel Chocolat, that use automation tools within their campaigns to ensure they procure and nurture a strong audience. This is a trend we have seen across all clients, where automation tools are augmenting their teams’ capabilities and giving them time to focus on their strategy.
People used to be scared about using DSA, but now with tools such as static headlines, we can avoid running issues and editorial issues people experienced previously. The technology, therefore, is giving clients more safety than they would have experienced in the past.
JB: Tell us a bit more about the Microsoft COVID Hub? What information can advertisers find there to help them navigate the next few months of turbulence?
MG: The Microsoft COVID Hub houses trends according to vertical and includes vertical-specific and search-related performance trends. If you already have an account with Microsoft Advertising, I suggest you get in touch with your account team so they can show you around! Clients have found the vertical-specific insights on the hub to be essential for creating stronger strategies during this period.
JB: For advertisers who did reduce spend in Q1 because of COVID, how are they bringing their spend back and using trends data to plan ahead?
MG: There have been changes across the board in terms of planning. Where we used to plan six months to a year in advance, we are now looking more at the immediate future.
We are working closely with clients who have granular strategies and who understand their audience. Now more than ever, knowing your audience and having an effective search strategy that is placed within a wider integrated strategy will ensure you can reach your clients at all phases of the customer journey.
JB: What platform features and updates have Microsoft Advertising released recently that clients should be aware of?
MG: We have several features that Google are yet to offer including Microsoft Audience Network. It is a very powerful product, especially in relation to Search and a quick win to add to campaigns. In the financial services sector for example, we’ve seen clients using this feature return a +25% Click lift plus exposure, in retail, this number has been +80%. Other features we’re excited about include DSA with static guidelines, Action Extension and Video Extension.
JB: What advice would you give for advertisers coming out of this period?
MG: Firstly, stay on top of your insights, don’t miss any information about your audience and changes in your vertical.
Second, be open, try to be creative and innovative. As we are evolving in a very competitive space, it is imperative to stay ahead of your competitors. Don’t be scared to be innovative, as we saw this year these were the strategies that paid off.
Thirdly, monitor your performance bi-weekly, to ensure you are aligned with activity and can optimise for better performance.
Thank you for reading our summary from The Digital ROASTing with Microsoft Advertising. Want to get an update on the latest Tools, Tech and Trends within Paid Media? Look no further than our event summary.