Today during our Business Conference at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I shared our vision for the next generation of display and search advertising -- a vision that pivots around the extent to which we can harness consumer intent.
We need to do away with ads that are intrusive or that merely seek to attract attention, and move to a world where ads are tied directly to consumer intent. Ads that understand what the underlying objective is that a user has in mind. Ads that are welcomed, sought-out and can help a user complete a task.
Earlier this year, I spoke at the annual IAB Annual Leadership Event about how our industry should enable greater user control over online data, which could in turn result in more tangible value for advertisers, publishers and consumers. My premise was that if consumers had a greater voice in how their data is being used, they would be more likely to share that data with reputable players in the online ecosystem in return for some type of value. This is where intent advertising enters the picture. The more we understand and can harness data, the better equipped we will be to deliver meaningful, relevant advertisers to consumers.
Rik van der Kooi speaking during the business conference at Cannes Lions 2011
But first we have some tough challenges to overcome as the digital world becomes increasingly complex with the fragmentation and “siloing” of devices, a tightening regulatory environment, the complexity of delivering personalized ads on a global scale and many other factors.
Once we unlock this complexity, we can better identify and understand why people are on the web and what they are trying to do. Armed with the right kind of information, we will be able to map a user’s tasks to the applications and services that can help complete those tasks. Over time, we expect that the cloud will then become the connecting layer that will process user intent and adjust the search, browse and ad experience for consumers “in the moment” instead of just making decisions based on past behavior.
The value for advertisers will be realized when advertising has context and intent “baked” into it so that it can help people accomplish tasks and provide added value along the way. Ads based on intent will be personalized to interests, location-aware, socially connected and more immersive than ever before. Moreover, we will accelerate the process of removing irrelevant ads that de-sensitize users, and have the potential to blind them to all other ads on the page – even those that may, in fact, be very relevant.
We are very motivated to move this vision forward in order to provide advertisers with a way to create intent-based ads, and in doing so strengthen the bonds between consumers and brands. The greatest journeys start with a single step, and in our case, we have begun this journey with our award-winning IAB Filmstrip ad format, which is designed to dynamically match how a user is interacting with the ad based on their mindset – providing for a much more relevant experience. Dodge was the first to leverage the IAB Filmstrip as part of its “Never Neutral” brand campaign, which ran on MSN.com. The campaign put the user in control and employed rich video of the Dodge Grand Caravan’s interior to “call out” new features.
This is just the beginning. Our goal is to create a platform and marketplace that others can build on, and where buyers will have the ability to purchase intents, in addition to audiences and keywords.
On a related front, just as we are gathering momentum on making advertising more relevant, we are also moving forward aggressively on helping agencies use technology to add value to their media buying and campaign management efforts. Today, we are excited to announce that the Microsoft Advertising Exchange is now open for business in the UK and the Netherlands, making it easier for advertisers to access real-time bidded (RTB) inventory on premium owned and operated properties. Plus, Windows Phone 7 in-app inventory is now available globally via the Microsoft Advertising Exchange for Mobile.
We look forward to sharing more with you as we continue to crack the code on seeking context through clutter, harnessing consumer intent, and reducing friction for agencies in the ecosystem.
Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president, Microsoft Advertising of Advertiser & Publisher Solutions group
Stay tuned for more great coverage from Cannes Lions 2011!