Today at Advertising Week 2009, Robin Domeniconi, Vice President of US Sales for Microsoft Advertising, will unveil a proof-of-concept prototype business tool, “code-named LookingGlass,” that lets companies listen to, participate in, and analyze social media.
We chatted to Jamey Tisdale, group product marketing manager for the platform strategy group in Developer & Platform Evangelism and Marc Mercuri who’s the team’s director of business innovation, who said the project, code-named "LookingGlass," will let companies listen to, participate in, and analyze social media. It is a proof-of-concept prototype that harnesses the Microsoft platform to demonstrate how businesses can quickly and efficiently put social media to use as they create advertising. It’s a prototype of a social media business platform, "What we're trying to do is to make social media actionable for businesses."
LookingGlass is part of a broader shift under way within the platform strategy group. For the past two years, the group has been driving strategy around how to move marketing and advertising into the software-plus-services arena. "The proof-of-concept we wanted to build was to connect business data with advertising data and bring social media into the equation," Tisdale told us. That way you can mine social media sites for information and then use that information to act. "If you do that, it settles a hot topic and makes things actionable that weren't actionable before."
The first step in making social media data useable is listening to the conversation. LookingGlass, which is built on a number of Microsoft technologies, lets users track customer sentiment across an array of social media sites. For example, the Zune HD marketing team could use LookingGlass to see what users are saying about the product in real time on Twitter, Flickr, or YouTube. Using technology from Microsoft Research, LookingGlass automatically rates each posting as positive or negative, so the Zune HD team could rank comments according to sentiment and see how customers are responding to the product and the campaign to sell it.
Under the Zune example, the team could use LookingGlass to post a quick response on Twitter or Facebook. With all that information, businesses will be able to participate in conversations taking place on the social Web or start new ones. At a glance, they'll be able to see a spike in activity and to pinpoint how their campaigns are being received. marc enthused that that's what gives LookingGlass its power "You can not only identify whether your message is on target or not, you can discover memes or customer segments that you're presently unaware of."
Jamey & Marc In NYC for Ad Week
LookingGlass will be available via a Web browser and, courtesy of Microsoft's Silverlight technology, will provide a rich, interactive experience on both Windows-based PCs and Macs. This is particularly important for the advertising audience, which generally has a mix of both platforms among their key staff.
While many tools in the social space focus on the individual, LookingGlass can empower individuals and marketing teams as they monitor and engage social media information from one central location. Rather than giving a handful of people access to the company's social media accounts, LookingGlass enables all team members to access the platform at once. Members can flag certain messages and task one another with responding. Jamey said this feature could help internal product teams quickly become aware of, and respond to, bugs in the products.
With LookingGlass, businesses can overlay advertising, sales, support, and other key business information onto their Web sites. And because it is built using Microsoft SQL Server 2008, LookingGlass readily integrates with other internal data. Marketers can then look at how internal data compares with, say, user sentiment of a product on Twitter or other social networking sites. They can then take targeted actions and enhance their investment of participating in social media.
This allows businesses to analyze their advertising investments in new ways. The emphasis is that LookingGlass is its own platform, which plays to Microsoft's strength. "Microsoft is uniquely qualified to be able to connect business information with social media information in a way that makes it actionable," said Jamey. Partners will be also able to build on top of the Microsoft platform to add their own insights and information for their clients.
"If we at Microsoft can change the discussion from banner ads to how do you provide a rich, relevant experience on the Web, we can start having a better business conversation. With LookingGlass, and some of the other proof-of-concepts we're working on, we're taking a big step toward changing that conversation."
Robin's session - Social Networking 2.0: Brands Get Into the Game - will be this afternoon at 2-2:45pm at The Times Center, 242 W. 41st St.
Make sure you follow the rest of the happenings at Advertising Week 2009.