Microsoft has begun testing the integration of social links within its paid search ads. The links come in the form of Social Extensions and are placed directly under your ad copy.

Advertisers can link to a social account or particular post across common platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Initial reports from Microsoft also suggest the potential for linking to specific hashtags. The extension is currently in beta and being tested in the US.

Tying social links to paid search ads isn’t an invention on Microsoft’s part. Google tried something similar back in 2011 when they the introduced the ability to link Google+ Pages to AdWords campaigns. Like most initiatives involving Google’s troubled platform, social extensions never caught on and were quietly phased out.

“The extension is currently in beta and being tested in the US”

Microsoft’s approach is more open and more sensible. Allowing advertisers to direct users to the social platform of their choice provides greater flexibility and potential for integration. Advertisers can co-ordinate paid search activities with social posts to create focused messages, including relevant hashtags where appropriate. It’s not clear whether paid hashtags can be included at this point, but still hints at interesting possibilities for creating reactive content around current events.

As an agency we’re always curious about the latest developments in search technology, and Bing social extensions appear to be a step above AdWords sitelinks for merging dynamic social activity with traditionally static paid search advertising