Microsoft shows off Bing tool for measuring ad effectiveness

A company executive said Microsoft has developed a tool to target what search ads users are clicking on

Microsoft on Monday demonstrated a new tool for its Bing search engine that will allow advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their ads with online users.

Speaking at the IAB MIXX Conference and Expo 2009 in New York on Monday, Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Audience Business group, showed off what he called a "user-level targeting" tool that allows Microsoft to see which search-based ads that appear in the Bing search engine are getting the most traffic and from where.

"What we're doing with Bing for vigorous measurement is we're matching the exact ad online with the exact user," he said.

Mehdi pointed out that statistics show that 39 percent of Web users do 65 percent of the online searches, so it would be beneficial for advertisers to see which of those "heavy users" are targeting certain ads, versus which ads are favored by "light users."

The tool Microsoft created shows where the interest in a marketing or advertising campaign is specifically coming from, he said.

This measuring ability for Bing was demonstrated as part of Mehdi's presentation, in which he discussed how Microsoft is applying lessons it's learned from studying advertising campaigns and creating technology to reflect that learning.

One of those lessons was what he characterized as "relentless measurement and optimization" to find out what ads are most effective so they can be better targeted to their proper audience.

"One of the big things is trying to build a loyal fan base for the product," he said. "You can’t just go out and put your message everywhere. You have to pick and focus."

Microsoft revamped and rebranded its Live Search engine "Bing" in June, and making it more effective for search advertising is something the company continues to work on, Mehdi said.

It was unclear from Mehdi's presentation whether this technology is available for advertisers using Bing today or whether it's just something Microsoft is using internally.

A representative from Microsoft's public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom, declined to answer follow-up questions about the technology or his presentation.

This kind of ability to measure what kinds of online advertising is working with users is becoming essential as more and more business is being done on the Web.

In fact, Microsoft competitor Adobe Systems -- an executive from which spoke before Mehdi on Monday -- last week said it was purchasing Web analytics company Omniture to build measuring technology directly into Adobe's tools for creating online media.

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