Profile: Sir Charlie Mayfield

John Lewis Partnership Chairman

Microsoft and consumers co-create ad formats

Cannes Lions 2013: Microsoft has worked with consumers to co-create ad formats that it says will be more engaging and provide better value than current online ads.

The tech firm hosted two events with consumers from around the world earlier this year to identify the kinds of digital advertising people are most open to.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Cannes Lions, Microsoft VP of advertising and online, Andy Hart said: “We’re right to put people right at the heart [of advertising]. We are inundated with messages on digital and consumers are learning how to block them out. We have to be careful not to abuse the overabundance of supply because not only will consumers avoid ads, they will go blind to ads and that’s not good for anyone … If there is ad blindness, it doesn’t matter how good the creative is.”

Hart added Microsoft will continue to stand “side by side” with consumers, researchers and user experience developers to discover how brands should develop their messages.

Microsoft asked the groups what role different technologies plays in their lives, how brands earn loyalty or irritate them and how technology pays a role in the decision making and purchase journey.

The company then used “laddering” and other ethnographic techniques to determine points of friction in the buying process and then brainstormed how consumers would create better advertising using technology – such as Windows 8, Skype, MSN and Surface.

The workshops in London and San Francisco resulted in two prototype ad formats being developed that it claims allowed more personalised experiences, easier to share content across different networks ad media platforms, and seamless interaction between devices.

Microsoft also gleaned insights, such as consumers in Europe were less interested in coupons and reward programmes compared with commodities such as advice, beautiful imagery, a handy map or a sizing chart.

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