Imagine a world where digital advertising is relevant, useful and beautiful. Where campaigns are consumer-centric and engage rather than interrupt people as they use their laptops, PCs, smartphones, tablets and games consoles for work or play. Where marketers and advertisers have a platform – a digital canvas – which allows the free flow of integrated brand experiences across a vast ecosystem of devices and apps.
That’s the world we want to help create with Windows 8 Ads in Apps and all the other Microsoft products and services that form our new advertising offering, and with our partners in the advertising, branding, publishing and digital industries.
Exploring this new world, and the exciting opportunities and challenges it presents marketers, advertisers and creatives, was the focus of our IMAGINE London 2012 event last week, on 6 and 7 November.
As my colleague, Donna Hindson, said in her blog before the event, with Imagine we wanted to paint a picture of how “technology is radically changing the ways in which brands can tell their story through deeper and richer app experiences and demonstrate the next evolution in advertising.” We did this by looking specifically at the huge potential of Windows 8 as an advertising platform, in the context of the new Microsoft Advertising story, and, more broadly, examining important, related trends in advertising, technology and society.
The setting of the event was Modern Jago, a venue we established in the digital sizzle of Shoreditch to give creatives, developers and advertisers alike a new place to meet, inspire each other, and co-create.
Senior Social-anthropologist, Anna Kirah, talked us through findings from her fascinating study of how the new “streaming lifestyle” of mobile devices and apps has affected us as consumers. She showed the importance of relevance, timeliness and creativity in brand experiences, and how organisations need to let go of control in the new era of digital advertising.
Toby Barnes, AKQA Product Strategy Director, gave us an exclusive look at Nike Kinect Training and talked about how location and context will be crucially important to marketing and advertising over the next few years.
Gareth Dunmore, Nissan’s General Manager, Marketing Communications, and his colleague Darren Cox, took us through the car brand’s journey from channel specific communications to cross-platform content, and from audience engagement to fan entertainment and education. One of our first global partners for Windows 8 Ads in Apps, they also focused on the important role Windows 8 plays in the company’s innovative future marketing and advertising strategy, successfully playing a challenger brand role in the automotive industry.
Toby Wright, Chief Technology Officer, Telegraph Media Group, shared his experiences of working with Microsoft on Windows 8 as both a publisher and a first mover in developing an app for the operating system.
The double-header presentation by Jennifer Creegan, General Manager of Product Marketing, Microsoft Advertising, and Stephen Kim, General Manager of Yarn, a Microsoft Advertising Creative Lab, expounded the vision of the Windows 8 platform and showcased the hottest Ads in Apps prototypes.
Our Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin, complemented Jennifer and Stephen’s talk by explaining how the world wide web is becoming the “web of the world”, which revolves around consumers and brings things to us that are relevant, useful and engaging – just like our vision for the new era of digital advertising.
And finally, on the last day of Imagine, we all got to spend time with our CEO, Steve Ballmer. In an open conversation with me in front of senior industry delegates, Steve emphasised Microsoft’s fundamental consumer focus and its commitment to the advertising business. He also said that, “if you look at the world of devices and services, we are one of the few companies with multiple skills.” Here’s our IMAGINE London 2012 sizzle reel that captures all the action:
I’ll leave you with just some of the press coverage we received:
1. Marketing Week ‘Microsoft bids to ‘reinvent’ digital ads’
2. New Media Age ‘Nissan eyes Windows 8 activity for ‘brand clarity’
3. Media Week ‘Sky, Lloyds and Vodafone first UK advertisers on Windows 8’
4. Brand Republic ‘Microsoft aims to redefine the 'next wave' of digital advertising’
Andy Hart, General Manager, Microsoft Advertising UK