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Microsoft Ads vs. Google Ads: What’s Different About The Shutterstock Partnership?


Written by

Danielle Strouther



Microsoft Ads vs. Google Ads: What’s Different About The Shutterstock Partnership?

Recently, Microsoft Advertising announced its partnership with Shutterstock. It was big news, giving their advertisers access to over 330 million free images to use for campaigns on the Microsoft Audience Network

It was big news. But what you didn’t hear is that this feature already exists in Google Ads. 

In fact, Google Ads users have had access to Shutterstock images since 2016.  

Yet, amongst the noise about Microsoft’s partnership, Google has stayed silent. So, how do the two platforms compare?

Microsoft Advertising & Shutterstock

The Shutterstock API on Microsoft Advertising gives its users access to millions of copyright-free images to use on the Microsoft Audience Network. This is their native advertising solution that offers placements on thousands of partner websites, including Microsoft-owned programs such as Skype, Outlook and LinkedIn. 

It’s accessed inside the ad creator for these campaigns, by clicking the ‘Add images’ button. When selecting stock images, you’ll be able to search for themes or specific images among Shutterstock’s offering. 

Once you’ve found the one you want, it will be applied to your creatives. Sadly, you can’t edit the images at this time. 

By giving you the tools to select these images inside Microsoft, the API will save advertisers a lot of time having to manually create these assets themselves. 

Shutterstock CEO Stan Pavlovsky states: 

“Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing environment, businesses of all sizes are strapped for time and budget and looking for ways to remain top-of-mind with their audience. Microsoft’s suite of advertising offerings empowers businesses to increase ad relevance and deliver targeted visual messages that achieve their marketing goals.”

Currently, the Shutterstock API is only available to UK and US Microsoft users. However, it is expected to roll out to other countries later this year. 

Google Ads & Shutterstock 

Back in 2016, Google announced that it had selected Shutterstock to be the provider of stock images for their platform. 

Similar to Microsoft, these images are available to use for display campaigns, as well as for Responsive Display Ads. This means that you can select up to 15 stock images for your campaign and Google will automatically test the images to see which one performs best.

A screenshot showing Shutterstock Images inside the Google Ads platform

Like Microsoft, you can’t edit the pictures, but you can reposition them to fit your campaigns. 

Functionality wise, the two platforms are very similar. However, Google’s Shutterstock images are buried in the platform. Even the fact that they’re free to use doesn’t appear until you select the image and get notified that the watermark won’t appear in your ad. 

An image showing how to reposition a Shutterstock image inside Google Ads

Why Is Shutterstock A Big Deal For Microsoft Advertising?

The Shutterstock partnership has been a big deal for Microsoft Advertising, despite it being developed 4 years after Google implemented it.  A reason for this is not what the partnership is now, but what it will grow to be. 

Currently, Microsoft is the only advertising platform to offer images extensions in search campaigns. 

If the Shutterstock API is added to these campaigns as well, their visual offering advances massively. Despite Google having the feature in their pocket for years, they’ve not advanced on it. With Google, it’s stuck and nothing to shout about. 

With Microsoft, the Shutterstock API is a massive statement. It’s not only demonstrating the power of visual ads but saying that if you want images, Microsoft Advertising is your winner. 

Let’s see what the future holds. 

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