Microsoft Advertising

Reinventing the way companies and customers connect


The data deluge has transformed marketing–it’s made advertising more personal and brand experiences more relevant. It’s also helped marketers drive automation and optimization across the enterprise. Microsoft, with global leadership in cloud and data through Azure, had all the equity needed to capture marketers’ attention–but the products and services were delivered under the Bing Ads name. We helped streamline, simplify, and ultimately tap into the equity of the parent brand with the launch of Microsoft Advertising.


Rename Bing Ads to Microsoft Advertising and develop a strategic platform to leverage the Microsoft brand to best effect for modern marketers.


  • Naming
  • Messaging
  • Brand strategy
  • Research and insights - qualitative and quantitative
  • Manifesto
  • Visual identity
  • Brand guidelines
  • Brand launch materials
  • Brand storybook
  • Training materials and presentation

What it means to be Microsoft in front of marketers

Digital advertising has evolved from an industry defined by reach and frequency to an ecosystem defined by connected platforms and innovative partnerships. Bing Ads likewise needed to evolve. Instead of competing as a search brand or as a social network, they needed to emphasize the things that set Microsoft apart—the scale and capability of the Microsoft ecosystem was one major component. Affirming the value of the Microsoft brand in the advertising space was easy through primary research.

Integrating Microsoft Advertising beyond the name meant navigating the ins and outs of the changes that the Microsoft brand itself was undergoing—new guidelines aiming to unify, connect, and simplify. Because that transition was under way, we couldn’t just follow a template. Instead, we closely partnered with our clients to transform a cadre of stakeholders from a virtual team to a group of brand advocates who help connect and convert internal audiences to the new brand.

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Trust is not a trade-off

The other great differentiator for Microsoft Advertising is something earned, not claimed—trust. While some of the biggest technology brands were making headlines by selling data or violating privacy and asking for permission later, Microsoft had been notably missing from those stories.

Why? We heard consistently and clearly in the market research that Microsoft has a halo of trust extending from users who want their privacy respected, to agencies who don’t want to be disintermediated from their clients, to advertisers who value brand safety and protecting their customer data.

In fact, rather than adhere to the industry standard philosophy of “more personalized equals less private,” Microsoft could stand out by being the brand to eliminate that trade-off for marketers and the people they want to connect with. 

If the pivot in name from Bing Ads to Microsoft Advertising was about conveying greater connectedness and capability, our brand strategy needed to showcase how those capabilities led to better outcomes when paired with trust.

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Bringing to life a brand about connecting people, not just reaching them

Working closely with our clients to incorporate POVs from internal audiences worldwide representing everything from strategic initiatives to products to sales, it became apparent that we needed to deliver a multi-layered strategic product to convey the Microsoft Advertising brand. It had to:

  • Have a position and messaging that would easily complement existing products and services from Microsoft.
  • Speak to creative agencies, global 50 companies, and small businesses equally well.
  • Set up Microsoft Advertising for heroic levels of growth.

We needed a galvanizing belief statement to satisfy each objective, and we expressed it thus: Microsoft Advertising believes in  putting People First.

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  • Launched a new brand - Microsoft Advertising - and enabled stakeholders to make it their own
  • Helped build momentum and advocacy around the new brand by demonstrating how it advances the overall Microsoft mission
“Northbound worked with us to really understand our business, audiences, and competition to create meaningful differentiation that resonated and inspired our teams to take action. The end result was so well-received by our organization, and we know will land really well with our clients.  It’s a result of great collaboration and awesome work. Thank you for bringing the power of Microsoft to differentiate us!”
Julie Wymetalek
Senior Brand Manager
Microsoft Advertising

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