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Microsoft Brings New Digital Trends To Advertising Week #FFWD2014

Guest Post:  Natasha Hritzuk heads up Global Consumer Insights for Microsoft Advertising, a newly created role when she joined Microsoft three years ago.  Her team is responsible for driving Thought Leadership, customer partnership research, campaign effectiveness/optimization and product development/insights.  Connect with Natasha on LinkedIn.

Our world is changing.  Consumers’ relationships with technology are maturing and we’re starting to expect more from our devices. And while technology may be innovating at an increasingly fast pace, the onus remains on us to do a lot of the work: we still carry multiple devices; manually synchronize accounts; sort important emails from spam;  update operating systems;  set defaults; and, back up our information.

InsightEven when consumers give clear signals of their intent, technology isn’t always great at reading them intelligently. When was the last time a retailer bombarded you with irrelevant emails, you were woken up by your mobile in the middle of the night, or you struggled to find the website that would give you the exact information you were looking for?  As the Canadian population becomes increasingly mobile, there remains a disconnect between what technology can do and what consumers need and expect, especially fast-adopting and influential consumers. This will have huge implications for brands and businesses across all categories.

With a diverse ecosystem of products and services that touch millions of peoples’ lives every day, we at Microsoft try to understand the changing landscape of consumers’ expectations and needs in order to shape our business.  Research is essential to this goal and as part of our advertising business, we believe the information and insights we gather can also help other brands to learn with us.

In our latest Digital Trends research study, which was launched last week  at Ad Week Toronto, we investigated how Canadians’ needs are evolving and how brands can better meet our expectations both today and in the future.

There are three key themes that we discussed:

  1. Canadians are increasingly seeing digital data as a commodity and are now looking to enter into open exchanges with brands in return for something of value, like offers & deals, convenience, or more personal and fulfilling experiences.

–       For example, Loblaw’s loyalty program rewards consumers with relevant offers & deals in exchange for tracking purchases every time they’re in store.

  1. In our constantly connected world, we’re are seeking more intelligent relationships with technology.  We want technology that can disappear without completely disconnecting us.

–       For example, digital personal assistants, like Osito, are increasingly proactive. Informed by contextual data, these services provide notifications and execute tasks that feel like magic, like delaying your alarm when it knows your meeting has been cancelled.

  1. We also want technology to understand us and our tastes so well that it’s able to create encounters that is not just relevant, but will also surprise, delight and challenge us.

–       With Xbox One technology, mood is measured from facial expressions to deliver messaging based on how we’re feeling, the time of day, and the activity we’re engaged in, bringing us closer to enabling truly serendipitous moments.
Each of these trends creates both challenges and opportunities for brands and advertisers to engage us in ways that are seamless, relevant and useful to our daily lives. Advertisers will need to look beyond delivering single message, towards more involved campaigns that support and reward consumers in the ways we want.