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We’re rounding out 2017 with a series that looks ahead to our next 12 months and features insights from our top partners. Today’s expert: Bing North America Agency Lead Nick Berliner*.

* Please note that all answers are the personal opinions of the interviewee, not of their employer.

What is the most exciting thing that happened to your company in 2017?

At Bing, we are super excited to deliver effective audience-buying solutions to our agency partners and brand clients. We know that brands and advertisers are demanding increased efficiency across all media channels and will look to accomplish this through highly relevant audience targeting. Bing now has a Custom Audience solution that allows advertisers to bring first-party data from their data management platform (DMP) into Bing – initially launching with Adobe and now available with Oracle. Bing is also offering an In-Market Audience product that enables targeting for over 125 purchase categories across retail, auto, finance, travel, and more. Providing more audience targeting capabilities and insight is now the most requested feature by clients, and we are committed to answering the call.

What do brands need to have mastered in 2017 to be ready to compete in 2018?

As mentioned above, with brands making ROI more of a priority, advertisers must embrace and be proficient with audience targeting. At a minimum, use of remarketing and demo targeting will be the table stakes as consumers expect unique results and experiences delivered specifically for them. To further compete, they need to understand the critical role advertising and search plays, not just in the Customer Decision Journey, but in Customer Lifetime Value.

What do you see as the major trends in your industry in 2018?

Marketers will need to build natural, tailored experiences to create authentic engagement with consumers. Search will play a critical role in enabling artificial intelligence (AI) services, such as vision, speech, and language understanding, which will unlock these new experiences. In addition, the increasing amount of data, sophisticated AI algorithms, and machine learning capabilities will provide a deep understanding of the consumer and give search engines and chatbots the ability to understand and even predict consumer intent. This will further strengthen Bing’s core services and make new personalized scenarios possible. Amirite, Zo?

What should brands focus on this coming year to stay ahead of competition?

In 2018, brands will need to reach consumers where they are, which will be increasingly in messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, and Slack and through digital assistants such as Cortana, Alexa, and Google Home. Brands also need to start thinking about how to use chatbots and voice skills as an extension of their brand to help move consumers from asking questions to taking actions. Brands must have a strategy for connecting with their customers in these new personalized scenarios.

If you could invest $50 million in the most promising upcoming technology in your industry, what would you invest in?

A DMP that could pull search-related data from across a world of AI-enabled IoT devices and intelligent services to create richer consumer profiles could be a compelling development for both advertisers and consumers. If the DMP could pull data across all platforms and further enhance with machine learning and advertiser first-party data, it could take intent and predictive abilities to the next level, delivering hyper-targeted advertiser opportunities while also giving consumers the personalization they are seeking.

If you could invest $50 million in the most promising upcoming technology in marketing, what would you invest in?

Microsoft is already highly invested in augmented and mixed reality possibilities, but any technology that builds on mixed reality hardware and embraces the consumer desire to shop online or from home, but provide a rich buying experience will position well in the coming years. Head-mounted displays like HoloLens will eventually be pervasive, and online shopping where the shopper could decide on a purchase by “slipping on” a hot, new Burberry trench coat from their living room or appraising the ripeness of a batch of beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the supermarket from their kitchen could change the game for retail and brick and mortar brands. BTW, I’d look amazing in that trench.

What big change in your product or service will be a game changer in 2018?

In June of 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, and the response from Bing advertisers has been fervent. “When can we target LinkedIn audiences!?” is a frequent refrain. While we have taken an intentionally deliberate and thoughtful approach to our integration with LI, we are excited to begin unveiling some of the ways LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Bing Ads will help marketers achieve results in 2018. One example is our data integration work announced at AdWeek NYC, where we are partnering to create a better understanding of each other’s users and ultimately help marketers better reach the people who matter most to them. This is just one of the exciting outcomes on the horizon as we continue to explore how to make each other’s products more engaging.

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Read more 2018 predictions from 3Q Partners and Experts by clicking here.

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