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Bing Ads’ Lynne Kjolso talks growth after Yahoo, LinkedIn, voice search & quick wins

Bing Ads’ Lynne Kjolso talks growth after Yahoo, LinkedIn, voice search & quick wins

At SMX Advanced last week, Lynne Kjolso, general manager of  global search sales and service at Microsoft, discussed the LinkedIn acquisition, what the changing partnership with Yahoo has meant for advertisers and engineering cycles and how to approach Expanded Text Ads in Bing Ads.

Lynne has been at Microsoft for a little over nine years. She was instrumental in the launch of the Yahoo Bing Network and has led sales, account management and operations teams for the Bing Network, with a particular focus on small and mid-market businesses and partner channels.

From LinkedIn to quick wins, here’s what Kjolso shared with the SMX Advanced audience:

LinkedIn acquisition

Since the deal to acquire LinkedIn is still in the works, Kjolso is bound by regulatory restrictions on discussing the deal, but she did say the news is as exciting to her personally as the changing relationship with Yahoo has been. Discussing what the convergence of LinkedIn and Microsoft data could mean for marketers, Kjolso said, “I think the combination increases the total addressable market for both companies by about 50 percent.”

A lot of the discussion thus far has focused around what the integrations could mean for Office 365 and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM, but Kjolso says there is a lot of discussion happening about advertising scenarios.

She reiterated that LinkedIn will remain a separate business and brand and that “they will guide the discussion about what we integrate and when, and it’s genuinely a partnership.”

Moving beyond the Yahoo Microsoft Search Alliance

Kjolso was involved in every phase of launching the Search Alliance globally. To give a sense of how quickly things have changed for the Bing Ads team, Kjolso said, “It took us five years to globally roll out the search alliance… and we unwound 90 percent of that in less than six months.”

In the past year, Bing Ads has built out a sales team of 450 search professionals globally. In North America, Bing Ads transferred over 10,000 large accounts in less than six months and just completed the whole global transition.

With that kind of speed, “it’s been very bumpy for us, and unfortunately that has meant it’s been bumpy for advertisers… and we don’t feel good about that,” admitted Kjolso, “but what we do feel good about and why were committed to changing the partnership is the thousands of new relationships we’ve been able to build with our advertisers, agencies and partners.”

Kjolso noted that engineers have been brought into customer discussions, and that has had a dramatic impact on the business.

Evolving engineering priorities

Anyone who has been a Bing Ads customer over the past couple of years will have noticed a shift in engineering priorities and an increase in the number of updates and features that have shipped in the past year or so. Kjolso said this is in part due to moving to an agile development cycle rather than a set schedule and taking customer input directly into the prioritization.

A big example of this new prioritization was Wednesday’s launch of Bing Ads Editor for Mac, a feature that had been in request for years with no action. Kjolso said that as a sales director, she had heard that request for years, but that it wasn’t until they got direct relationships with advertisers and were able to get engineers in the room with clients that the engineering team understood the importance. “It changed the thinking and it changed the roadmap. You’re going to keep seeing more of that from us,” said Kjolso.

Parity & differentiation with AdWords

Bing Ads announced it would support Expanded Text Ads soon after Google announced the new format would be coming. Just as Google is recommending that advertisers start from scratch when developing Expanded Text Ads rather than try to append additional text onto existing ads, Kjolso says Bing Ads advertisers should take the same tack and take the opportunity now to start thinking about creative testing.

Parity with AdWords in a case like ETAs is important because, “We’re committed to time and efficiency for practitioners.” To put it more succinctly, Kjolso said, “Parity is a version of us being customer-focused.”

Kjolso said that now customers are saying, “Okay, you’re getting the parity thing. Now we want you to innovate. Now we want you to push.” Device bidding is one example of this, but also on the consumer side, with Cortana, says Kjolso, and syndication and partnerships.

Syndication, scale & mobile

Bing Ads has been testing native ads on in another example of going beyond parity. Kjolso says the beta has been successful, but that they have been getting a lot of feedback about optimization, reporting and other pieces that marketers want, and they are working on implementing those pieces into the road map.

On the syndication front, Kjolso says a key reason for wanting to change the relationship with Yahoo was to have the opportunity to “aggressively and competitively expand our network of high-quality publishers.” Teams are focused on building partnerships and scale, and “I will tell you the focus is mobile, mobile, mobile. We know we have ground to make up there. We know this is where the industry is shifting and how quickly that’s happening.”

Kjolso says they’re looking at building mobile scale from Microsoft’s own ecosystem, but also significantly from new partnerships. Bing’s existing partnerships include AOL, Yahoo, The Wall Street Journal, Apple’s Siri and Spotlight search and Amazon Fire.

“Conversation as a platform”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the conversation as a platform concept at Microsoft’s Build developer conference earlier this year. The idea is to leverage multiple technologies with bots and digital assistants to get things done. Kjolso said this is how Microsoft is thinking about where mobile is going (and it’s not alone in this vision).

Since the launch of Windows 10, Kjolso said, last year there have been six billion voice searches through Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant that is available as a mobile app and built into Office 10 and Windows phones.

“We’ve seen so many queries going through voice search and through Cortana, and that has happened much faster than any of us anticipated, I think,” said Kjolso, adding that there has been a 60-percent increase in question and semantic queries in the past year.”

This growth in semantic queries — who, what, when, where, why — is something we’re going to be grappling with along with thinking about how bots will fit into the mobile fabric, and digital marketers are at the forefront of how companies address these shifts, says Kjolso.

Shopping campaigns could see updates this fall

Kjolso says they are making a lot of investments for Shopping both in usability and in reach and scale. So we’re making a huge effort over the summer, so that by the fall, “we hope to be launching some meaningful improvements” in both usability and volume.

Quick wins for the holidays

What should advertisers be looking at to get more from their Bing campaigns? Set up extensions and annotations. Kjolso says there are a lot of accounts that still don’t have these set up in their accounts, and the click-through rate boosts that can come with having extensions and annotations make them quick wins with little effort.

The full interview is available in the videos section of the Search Engine Land Facebook page.