THE BLOG

Microsoft's Innovative Use of Interactive Ads

07/16/2012 11:10 am 11:10:08 | Updated Sep 15, 2012

The Challenge: Paid streaming services are gaining in popularity, making interactive ads the new norm for TV. Marketers need to respond by integrating interactivity across channels.

With the advent of interactive ads on streaming services Hulu and MSN Video Player, viewers can engage TV ads with the simplicity and immediacy of online ads. With viewers growing accustomed to interactivity, one-way ads are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

The Tipping Point: Gaming

An increasing number of TV viewers are streaming content through gaming devices like Sony's PlayStation 3 or Microsoft's Xbox. (Every month, Xbox users watch 300 million hours of video on the platform.) These devices are rich with opportunities to interact. With the imminent release of NUads, Microsoft's interactive ads platform for Xbox Live, it's time for marketers to take note.

The Promise of Interactive TV Ads

Many Xbox Live channels, including Crackle and Live.fm, are already ad-supported. So far, these have been static audio and video advertisements. With NUads ("natural user advertising") Xbox users will be able to interact with ads using "Kinect" voice and gesture-control capabilities. The platform will be rolled out in the Fall, and major advertisers including Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung Mobile have already signed on.

With NUads, marketers will be able to add interactive elements like poll questions, sharing functionality, or browser links to video ads. Customers can respond with a simple voice command or a wave of the hand. According to Rohan Oommen, general manager of Xbox Live EMEA, NUads will "fundamentally transform television advertising."

KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR MARKETERS

Here is how marketers can prepare for the transformation:

» Find Relevant Ways to Make Ads Interactive
With online ads, social media and, now, interactive video, every ad can be an opportunity to interact. As a result, selecting images and drafting ad copy is no longer enough. Marketers need to give customers a way to interact with ads, rather than passively viewing them.

» Only Add Interactivity if it Adds Value
Don't add poll questions or share buttons to ads just for the sake thereof. As Chris Hall wrote at Pocket-lint, "Interaction will come down to how clever advertisers are." If you aren't building creative interactions, you're just adding an additional step between users and the content they're trying to watch. Successful interactivity will require more.

» Don't Limit Interactivity to TV!
While NUads and platforms like Hulu have enabled interactivity on standard television commercials, that doesn't mean interactivity should be limited to TV. The top-performing social media advertisers give users ways to engage on Facebook and Twitter. And given new customer expectations, corporate websites can no longer be static.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine. His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."