Lately we’ve noticed a buzzword flying around the industry not heard so prevalently since early last decade. Suddenly everybody cares about Microsoft again, and it’s not just to muse over what bugs have been fixed in the latest version of Windows, or to critique an ever-so-slightly more user-friendly version of Internet Explorer before everyone migrates back to Firefox.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Microsoft as something that works, but never particularly entrepreneurial – it seems that’s all about to change. Far from resting on its laurels, Microsoft has been working on a number of important initiatives which are not only set to help it reclaim its 90s crown as technology innovator but as leaders in building a new advertising model and a new proposition for brands where competitors Apple and Facebook are famously struggling.
Here’s what Microsoft is getting us excited about, tell us your thoughts @ActiveIntlUK
Yesterday’s launch of Surface is a game changer for the tablet world. In a market dominated by Apple’s iPad (iPad2, New iPad etc), the standard is set high and competition is fierce. But commentators have been underwhelmed by Apple’s standard of innovation of late, with Mashable lamenting the relatively stagnant iOS6, the tide may be turning.
For media planners though, Surface is a beautifully designed platform for the long awaited Windows 8, a veritable theme park for brands and advertisers. This week at Cannes Lions, Microsoft Advertising announced it was working closely with agencies to develop in-app advertising across the operating system with a refocus on customer experience to tell brand stories.
Stephen Kim, general manager of global creative solutions advertising and online at Microsoft, said, “Our team is focusing on creative agency evangelism to develop compelling brand experiences that incorporate Microsoft Advertising’s portfolio.
The clue is in the name on this one; last year Microsoft announced a new ad format centring on user interaction – less push and pull, more tug-of-war. NuAds allow consumers to respond to an ad by simply a voice or gesture command.
In doing this, Microsoft has created a new world of ads that people will want to get involved with simply because of the novel format. Genius.
This year, the format is being rolled out across its Kinect console and the crude oil pool of data will begin to accumulate at warp speed.
The Ad Exchange
While Facebook is proudly announcing its latest ad exchange model: Facebook Exchange, Microsoft is totting up prestigious and influential partners for its own. Microsoft may be only just becoming a truly consumer-facing brand, but it hasn’t lost its foothold in business and has astutely pledged to put a focus on keeping agencies, advertisers and brands involved and spending money. Earlier this year, advertising giant WPP signed such a partnership, giving them access to all Microsoft tools and advertising offerings.
Despite futile attempts to drive the phrase ‘Bing it!’ into the global vernacular, Google should be keeping a close eye on Microsoft’s plans for the next generation of search. Stefan Weitz, its senior director of search last week gave us a teaser in the evolution of search. He references new interaction models already patented by Microsoft, such as voice command and gesture recognition.
As he says himself: “Search is changing dramatically. The web is becoming more social, and these social signals can do a better job of understanding who people are and deliver more relevant and more personal results that understand the context and intent of the query”.