In recent weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of announcements between search engine and social media giants. Whether it’s been Google cozying up with X (yeah, that’s what they’re calling Twitter these days), Bing sharing some AI love with Snap & Meta, or TikTok cooking something up with Google; there have been some interesting partnerships for advertisers to wet their appetite with.
So what’s with all these unexpected duets? Why are Search Engines partnering with Social Media Platforms? Let’s break it down and see what’s in it for advertisers (because, you know, opportunities!).
What partnerships & updates have we seen?
X (formerly Twitter) inventory now available via the Google Display Network
X has decided to outsource some of its ad inventory. It’s well known that X has been struggling for a while in this space, with recent reports showing a -59% decline in ad revenue for the social media platform. The idea is that by partnering with Google to give some of it’s home feed inventory to the Display Network, that Elon Musk can claw some of this vital ad revenue back (90% of Twitter’s revenue came from advertising in 2022).
Microsoft Advertising powers Snap Sponsored Links within MyAI
In September 2023, Microsoft announced that it has partnered with Snap to tap into its Chat Ads API to serve sponsored links in their MyAI chat bot in Snapchat.
Sponsored links are placed within the chat experience of MyAI, promoting your products alongside its responses in a more natural way.
The partnership announcement claims huge numbers in adoption already, which should provide fruitful for advertisers to take advantage of.
Bing expands AI partnership with Meta
Microsoft recently released its Co-pilot to the general public via its 365 suite. As part of this, Bing is central to this new experience, meaning that its product suite is now linked directly into the latest information available online. Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be expanding this partnership into Meta AI so that Bing will be available in Facebook, as well as their other apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.
Google search results being tested on TikTok
Some TikTok users have started seeing Google search results in the app. According to The Verge, Google declined to comment on the screenshots shared, whereas TikTok representatives mentioned that this feature had been available for a number of months. This is clearly in an experimental phase, and it could roll out to a TikTok account near you!
We've also seen new formats in search engines to compete with social
Google have consolidated Discovery campaigns into Demand Gen, as well as added more inventory options into this new campaign type. The intention of demand gen is to do just that, generate demand higher up the funnel; a space that social would traditionally sit at in most multi-channel plans. Of course, it’s AI-powered, with additional features and generative AI solutions in ad creation available. Demand Gen ads will be visible on YouTube (including Shorts), Discover and Gmail.
This format was originally only available in beta, but Google has moved quickly to enable this globally so that all Google Ads advertisers now have access.
Why are Search Engines and Social Media platforms partnering with each other?
Are search engines just trying to be more sociable?
During a time when there is so much scrutiny on the power that Google has on the market for search, does it pay for them to be friendlier to their competitors so that judges show some mercy? Doubt it.
Demand Gen is Google’s effort to have an ad format that can compete for some of the advertiser spend in social. There is no denying that they have struggled in this space with their own social platforms such as Google+, which was sunset years ago. Cozying up to social media platforms will expand their remit into spaces they have struggled to make a dent in beyond YouTube.
At the same time as giving search engines access to some of the inventory in social, sharing tech made by Google and Microsoft will give search engines more data to make their models smarter. Microsoft have thrived in this space with LinkedIn, and it’s Microsoft Advertising formats make the most of this space and its fruitful data signals.
The AI race continues to make search a more natural and intuitive experience; something social is potentially better at.
Google and Microsoft are still battling to incorporate their new experiences with generative AI into the search results. Microsoft area already ahead and are actively using it’s partnership with OpenAI to incorporate this into the new Bing. Recently, Microsoft mentioned that clicks on ads in the generative experience were 1.8X higher than those on their traditional search page; proving how valuable ad placements can be if they are more naturally placed, and in context to the answer. Microsoft have announced a flurry of ad formats available in this experience, whereas Google are still being a lot more cautious.
Google’s Search Generative Experience still very much in the experimental phase. From Google’s perspective, their aim is to be more responsible with this power to gain more credibility in the long-run. In the past few weeks, Microsoft have been criticised for displaying ads promoting sites with malware in the Bing chat experience; something Google wants to avoid happening as not to hinder development here.
If you can't beat them, join them!
For social media platforms, the recent explosion in AI developments have largely been driven by search engines in the space of generative artificial intelligence via large language models (LLM’s). As not to be left behind, it makes sense for social to piggy back off the technology that already exists to improve its services. This gives them time to catch up and develop their own proprietary solutions in the long term where there are gaps. Of course, there are mutual benefits for all stakeholders here.
Improve the user experience on social media.
Social media platforms want you to stay on their services. Integrating Search Engine results into their own experiences does this. Utilising APIs and partnerships such as Microsoft’s with Snap is a good example of how social media platforms can use this technology as a white label; making it look more a part of the platform itself as a proprietary solution.
Expand the reach for advertisers.
Of course, the real reason for all of this is the mutual benefits for all stakeholders. For these stakeholders, the opportunity to make more money through lucrative ad placements in this space is unrivalled. It’s all about the money baby!
What does this mean for you?
Stay Updated: With the changing landscape, it’s crucial to stay informed about new features and integrations. A new partnership could mean a new ad platform or format to explore.
Measurement: It goes without saying that you need to make sure you have a robust solution in place to measure performance of your activity. Following all the latest best practices for privacy-safe solutions are key here.
Experiment: When opportunities become available, it’s a good idea to experiment responsibly.
Diversify Your Strategy: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. As these platforms integrate, your advertising strategy should evolve to leverage the best of both worlds.
Educate Your Team: Ensure everyone’s on board and understands the potential of these partnerships. Regular training sessions can keep you and your team ahead of the curve.
Don’t want your search ads inventory to appear on social media platforms? There are some tips I have shared on LinkedIn to stop your Google Ads Display Network (and therefore Performance Max) campaigns appearing on X.
- OpenAI Leadership Change: Sam Altman Out, Mira Murati Interim CEO - November 17, 2023
- Why are Search Engines becoming more sociable? - October 17, 2023
- Microsoft Ads Performance Max aims to be more transparent - July 28, 2023