The first of our Microsoft executives to speak this week was Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of our Online Audience Business.
Now Yusuf always seems to get the great demos gigs at Microsoft. He drew the lucky straw to demo Bing for the first time when Steve Ballmer unveiled our new search engine a few months ago, and his time on stage at IAB Mixx just now had us all enthralled.
He first gave us some insight into the kinds of innovations of old which have been game changers. Remember the college student who sold a million dollars worth of advertising on his website?
Then he demoed Bing. The backdrop to some of the innovation in Bing comes from some in-depth research the team did with consumers that said that 22% of clicks lead to users utilizing the back button, 42% of searches need refinement and 50% spend time on long searches. Bing is designed to give answers and help consumers arrive at a decision quickly! By concentrating on 4 main verticals – shopping, travel, health and local, Yusuf feels we’re headed in the right direction to giving users what they want…..and fast!
Then we got a demo of the new Visual Search which is capitalises on the fact we recognise images and interact with them 400% than text.
One thought I had is what a good example of marketing a product the Bing journey is, especially on the web.
Yusef gave some examples of how the Bing team were utilizing the web and social media through Twitter and Facebook to get the message out there. One tweet from Ryan Seacrest had 40k uniques travel to the Bing homepage to check it out and he also said how the effective integration of advertising into TV shows has created some buzz.
As maybe one should do with all presentations, Yusef left the best ‘till last.
When you stick a photo of Tom Cruise up on a big screen, you have a hard act to follow, but aligning the futuristic technology of the Minority Report with the next bit of kit, Yusuf's next demo was not all that far fetched.
Our cousins at Xbox unveiled Project Natal, essentially a games console without a contoller. Well how about talking that a step further and forecasting the future of computing as being when you are the tool that controls the computer?
Too far away? Not in our lifetime?
Yusuf left us with an awesome demo of him interacting in his virtual office with his digital assistant, setting up virtual meetings with clients, pinching photos from his phone and sticking them on the wall, all through movement and touch on devices like Microsoft Surface.
It really showed that the future we thought to be way, way off is really just around the corner.