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How Microsoft Advertising’s Local Inventory Ads Can Drive Customers to Your Business

Pam Neely
Unsplash image of theater with word 'local'

Do you want to sell more inventory from your brick-and-mortar store? Microsoft Advertising has a new way to help you do it.
 
Bing Ads, which recently rebranded as Microsoft Advertising, made Local Inventory Ads available to small businesses across the United States in June. Small businesses outside the United States will have to wait a little longer because Local Inventory Ads are limited to the U.S. for now.

If you’re interested in learning how to use Local Inventory Ads to attract customers on Bing, keep reading. 


What Are Local Inventory Ads?

Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) are ads that help customers find the products they want from nearby stores. If a retailer uploads a local product to a Microsoft Advertising campaign, then potential customers will see an LIA for that product when they search for something similar in Bing. If this sounds like Google’s Local Inventory Ads, you’re right. 

Microsoft Advertising’s Local Inventory Ads appear above the search results. In the image below, there are two LIAs from Target that are marked with a map icon and the words “In Store.” Can you spot them? 

Bing search for air conditioners near me

Microsoft Advertising’s LIAs look a bit different from Google’s LIAs, which appear in a speech bubble with a blue map icon and the words “Store Pickup” or “In Store.” You can see some examples of Google’s LIAs in the image below. 

Google search for air conditioners near me

How to Set Up Local Inventory Ads

There are lots of things you can do to sell more online and setting up LIAs is one tactic you should definitely consider. Want in on this new way to make more sales? First, you’ll need a Microsoft Advertising account. Fit Small Business has a great guide to Microsoft Advertising that will walk you through how to create an account, select keywords and set up a campaign.

If you’re already using Microsoft Advertising, you can follow these four steps to get your inventory seen by anyone who is looking for similar products in the neighborhood. 

1. Import Your Location Data to Your Microsoft Advertising Account
 
Not all accounts have this feature as of this article’s publication date, but many do and Microsoft says everyone will have it soon. Once your account has this feature, you’ll be able to link your Microsoft Advertising account to your Google My Business page and share your store location data through an automated feed.

Check out Microsoft’s detailed instructions for how to set up this automated business data feed.

2. Upload Local Product Information to Microsoft Merchant Center
 
To get your LIAs up and running, you’ll have to submit a local products feed file. This file will contain all the products you would like to advertise locally on Bing and must be formatted in a very specific way. There are instructions for how to format and submit your local products feed file here

An entry in a local products feed file should look something like this:

An entry in a local products feed file

3. Upload Inventory Information to Microsoft Merchant Center

You can skip this step if you only have one store! If you have more than one store, however, you’ll need to let Microsoft Advertising know which products are available at specific stores. You can do this by sharing a local products inventory feed with the Microsoft Merchant Center

4. Enable Local Inventory Ads in Your Microsoft Advertising Account
 
To enable LIAs, log into your Microsoft Advertising account, go the Campaigns page and select the shopping or product ads campaign you want to enable local ads for. 

Now, click on the “Settings” tab within that campaign. Under “Shopping,” check the box next to “Enable Local Inventory Ads” and then click “Save.”

Enable Local Inventory Ads in Microsoft Advertising account

And you’re done! Whenever someone near you is searching for the products you’ve listed, your ad will show up.
 

How to Set Up Local Inventory Ads Even If You Don’t Have a Website 

If you want to advertise your goods to local shoppers but don’t have a website yet, no problem.

Bing provides landing pages (called “storefronts”) for business that don’t yet have a website. When a shopper clicks on one of your Local Inventory Ads on Bing, they’ll be taken to your Bing-hosted storefront. If you’d rather send customers to your own website but aren’t sure how to get started, check out this guide to building a website in just 15 minutes.
 
You can choose from “Full” or “Basic” listings for your Bing-hosted landing pages. Here’s how they work and how they differ:

Bing-hosted landing pages explainer table

If you need more information, check out Microsoft’s help page for Bing-hosted inventory landing pages.

This is what the Bing-hosted landing pages look like compared to a store-hosted landing page:

Bing-hosted landing pages compared to a store-hosted landing page:

Wondering if Google will let you run their Local Inventory Ads without a website? Good news: They do. Google offers both merchant-hosted and Google-hosted landing pages for Local Inventory Ads.


Local Inventory Ads Aren’t Just for Retail Stores

If you’ve got a local service business, Local Inventory Ads might work for you, too. Think about it: Do you stock a couple of products that supplement or enhance the services you offer? You can promote those supplementary products with Local Inventory Ads and use them as a hook to get people interested in your services.

Here’s an example: consider a car wash and detailing service. Their primary business is service-based but if you’ve ever gone to a full-service car wash, you’ve probably seen a wall of cleaning products and car products for sale. That car wash can use Local Inventory Ads to promote their services.

Microsoft Advertising Local Inventory Ads car wash near me

People are busy, and many would really rather hire someone to complete tasks on their to-do list, such as a car wax and polish. If customers are looking for car wax products online and see that a car cleaning service is available nearby, they may decide to outsource the work to that local business instead.
 
This principle applies to many other services; dog grooming services, nail salons, tailors, appliance repair services—you name it.
 
In marketing, this tactic is known as an “upsell.” To upsell, you first need a customer who is ready to purchase a service or product from your company. Once you have their attention, you can upsell them additional or more expensive products or upgraded services. Upselling is a principle that has sold billions of dollars worth of goods and services. Try it for yourself.


Back to You

Microsoft Advertising’s Local Inventory Ads are an easy, automated way to sell more goods or drive customers to your service-based business. And while you might be tempted to skip over Microsoft Advertising because you’re already advertising on Google, consider these facts:

Age of Google, Bing, Yahoo users

Microsoft Advertising may not have the same reach as Google Ads, but it could be an excellent way for you to reach local customers who are actively searching for what you sell.
 
 

Image Credits
Feature Image: Unsplash / Priscilla Du Preez
All images screenshots taken by the author, July 2019. 
Image 1, 5 and 6: via Bing
Image 2: via Google
Image 3-4: via Microsoft Local Inventory Ad help pages 
Image 7: via Further

Pam Neely author bio