Peter Bell, chief technology officer, Microsoft Advertising
Peter Bell, chief technology officer, Microsoft Advertising
A view from Peter Bell

Think BR: Attention is key to keeping up with the evolution of technology

It's more important than ever before for brands to listen and act quickly, writes Peter Bell, chief technology officer, Microsoft Advertising.

The evolving digital landscape is pushing brands to move at a faster pace and in different directions more than ever before.

Crucially these advancements are creating forums and communications channels that are vital to a brand’s communication strategy in this age.

In my opinion, the attention brands place on the insights now open to them can deliver substantial advantages over their competitors.

Ultimately, if brands aren’t listening and acting upon the feedback open to them they should reflect on their approach and reassess their strategy.

Brands need to be able to analyse, assess and react immediately if required. The days of solely operating against a background of long planning cycles and a well-placed press release are behind us.

I loved the ads from Specsavers this summer - they proved they are relevant, have a personality and are quick to respond to what is happening around them.

At the same time with consumers more connected than ever and distractions coming from multiple screens - mobile phones, tablets, PCs and the TV - they are saturated with content from every angle but this creates an opportunity for the tech savvy marketer.

The ability to reach consumers across a number of different screens is something that is already changing the land of media consumption, giving people what they want, wherever and whenever they want it.

Mobile and online advertising provides opportunities for innovation and creativity, and if brands want to be noticed, advertisers must push boundaries and think creatively by doing something unexpected.

Another platform that has sparked conversation and excitement across the industry recently is TV. It dominates most living rooms around the world and watching it can be something the whole family shares. 

In its current form, the standard 30-second spot is a traditional, less engaged experience and one that has remained relatively unchanged for decades.

With on-demand and hundreds of channels now, it’s easier than ever to skip ad breaks. Brands need to keep on their toes and think of new ways to keep viewers engaged.

It is here that I believe Microsoft is truly leading the way. The introduction of NUads (natural user interface advertisements) on Xbox Live this autumn means the 30-second ad spot will never be the same again.

Using Xbox Kinect’s gesture and voice capabilities, or the standard controller if preferred, viewers can interact with the ad, while advertisers will receive real-time data based on their choice.

Unilever’s Lynx brand is the first to pilot the platform in the UK, creating an ad where the consumer sets the narrative within the ad - deciding whether or not the ‘Lynx Effect’ should be given to women in this case.

Unilever’s effort is just the first of what Microsoft’s NUads has to offer. Polling is just the first format Xbox Live Advertising has released, but the future possibilities are endless.

Research groups like Informa claim that consumer use of connected TV sets will leap from 82m in 2011 to more than 890m in 2015, so this is a really exciting time for us.

Peter Bell, chief technology officer, Microsoft Advertising