Here's the email I received from Microsoft earlier this month (emphasis mine):
Hello from Microsoft Advertising,
We've created new Responsive Search Ads for you, and they're ready for your review in the following account.
Account Name: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Account Number: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
If you'd like to review these ads, visit the Recommendations tab in Microsoft Advertising. You can edit, apply or decline them. Otherwise, they'll automatically go live on February 23, 2022.
You are receiving this email because your account is enabled to auto apply Responsive Search Ads suggestions. You can change this setting in Account Settings.
Thank you for using Microsoft Advertising.
The Microsoft Advertising team
Thanks Microsoft! That's just what I wanted to hear. Not only are you writing new ads for me and my clients with your algorithms, but you're implementing those ads without my explicit consent.
Google Ads does it too.
Since 2020, it has been extremely challenging to run a home services business - or any business for that matter. The last thing I want is for my advertising platform to automatically implement what they say is best for my business.
Changes like this make it harder and harder for small businesses to effectively run their own search advertising campaigns. You have a lot of day-to-day tasks that need your attention - you can't have your advertising platform automatically making changes behind the scenes that could end up hurting you.
If you're doing radio, tv, or billboard advertising, would you let those advertising channels create and run ads for you without you even providing consent? I sure as hell wouldn't.
You know what you want to promote, and you have your brand to protect. For home services professionals and companies that depend on customer leads, automatically surrendering that control to an advertising platform is an insanely bad idea.
Microsoft certainly has a wealth of search and click data to draw from, but they don't know your business. They don't know your goals. They don't know what services you want to focus on. They have a lot of raw data - which is certainly valuable - but that's all they have.
All of my existing client accounts were automatically opted into this auto-apply recommendations "feature" when it rolled out.
Why? Because auto-applying recommendations makes Microsoft more money.
Microsoft's stock price (per share) since March 2020 bears this out with a 109% increase in share price since March 2020:
Their stock price has gone up! Has yours? Make sure you're only paying them what you want and make sure you maintain as much control over your costs as you can.
It may sound like I'm slamming Microsoft - but I'm really not. I'm trying to illustrate a point.
Their fiduciary responsibility is to shareholders. They're doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're doing their job.
You just need to remember that they work for their shareholders. Not for you. They need to provide just enough value to advertisers like you to keep you spending your monthly budget on their advertising platform.
Any changes Microsoft makes to their ad platform as well as all recommendations they make to advertisers will certainly benefit Microsoft. It is up to you, as the advertiser, to determine whether those changes and recommendations will benefit you as well.
If you're getting a solid return on investment, you should absolutely continue using Microsoft Ads.
I advise most of my clients to at least experiment with Microsoft Ads. While the search volume is significantly lower than Google, the click cost, cost per lead, and cost per conversion is oftentimes less than what can be achieved with Google.
The key is to view their recommendations through a skeptical lens. Microsoft is not your partner. They are not your friend.
Just make sure that any recommendations they're making will make sense for your business.
As you can probably tell, I really despise the notion of ad platforms automatically changing my ad campaigns without my involvement.
If you receive an email from Microsoft like the one I shared above, you can opt-out of the ad recommendations as follows:
In the Microsoft Ads Dashboard, go to "All Campaigns" (1) and select "Recommendations" (2). I then selected "Ads & extensions" (3) as these were ads they were getting ready to insert into my account. I finally selected (4) "View 3 recommendations".
From this next screen, you can see the ads (obscured in the screenshot below). I clicked on "Dismiss All".
I then received the notification that the recommendations were dismissed.
But you should probably take things a step further by making sure that they don't try to automatically make changes in the future by following my recommendation below.
My recommendation is to permanently opt-out of Microsoft Advertising's recommendations by setting auto-apply ad suggestions to Off.
Why should you take my recommendation? This recommendation doesn't result in a financial gain for me. I also can't (unfortunately) automatically implement this recommendation for you. So you should at least consider taking my advice.
To turn the auto-apply recommendations to off, go to your dashboard in Microsoft Ads and select "Settings" (1). Make sure you're on "Account level options" (2). Uncheck all of the options under "Auto-apply recommendations" (3). When you're done, be sure to click "Save" (4).
Are you done? At least for the moment. But you need to remain vigilant and stay on top of changes with any search advertising platforms that you're using. Remember that all of the client accounts I had for years were automatically opted in to Microsoft creating and implementing ads without me saying that it was ok.
If you're not careful and don't keep yourself informed, it could be detrimental to your ad campaigns. It is certainly possible that Microsoft will make other changes in the future that could automatically change elements of your advertising account without you even knowing about it.
If you're running your own advertising campaigns, you'll want to closely monitor any emails that you receive. For example, you'll continue to get emails from Microsoft Ads periodically notifying you of advertising platform changes as well as recommendations.
In order to make sure your account is kept current and running efficiently, you'll want to read these emails and look at the recommendations. Implement any changes that make sense for your business and take note of any new "features" that will automatically change parts of your ad campaigns without your explicit consent.