@Microsoft seminar: Creative storytelling via rich media

02 Mar,2012


By Shruti Pushkarna


At the Rich Media Rocks seminar this year, the focus was on making it easier for brands to launch digital ad campaigns at scale while also giving creatives new and powerful canvases upon which they can tell their stories.


Neville Taraporewalla

The seminar, hosted by Microsoft Advertising, was held in the capital on March 1 at The Westin Gurgaon. Mr Neville Taraporewalla, Country Director, Advertising and Online, Microsoft India welcomed the delegates to the seminar.


Speakers at the event shared examples and case studies of brands to highlight the new experiences that rich media advertising has in store, if applied with the right balance with content. An underlying issue that was pointed out in the sessions was an obvious ‘disconnect’ between advertisers and consumers. Mr Pushkar Sane, Co-Founder & CEO, Converginations Ventures Limited said, “There is a language of convenience that people are communicating in, whether it’s codes or emoticons… there is an obvious disconnect between the way we communicate as people and the way advertising is communicating with us.”


Pushkar Sane

Mr Trevor Yeats, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Advertising reinforced Mr Sane’s point by stressing on the need for marketers to build an emotional connect with their consumers. Marketers, he said, “…need to fulfil the brand promise by creative storytelling, and rich media advertising can enable them to do so.”


As was highlighed at the recent ad:tech 2012, the issue here as well seemed to be the need for marketers to accept reality as it is today and try to connect with the consumer in a way that is not completely disruptive. Content, and speaking of rich media, is not just being created by brands; even consumers are becoming curators for brands. Mr Sane said, “Rich media is not only in the hands of the advertisers and marketers, it’s a tool that is available to your consumers, it’s equally a weapon in their hands, probably more lethal in their hands than yours.” So there is a need to strike a balance between content and rich media advertising so that the user feels that he/she has a choice to ‘engage’.”


In a scenario where the advertisers and marketers think of consumers as numbers that need to be hunted and targeted, thinking from the consumer’s perspective it feels like being in jail where one is trapped with excessive communication. Today consumers don’t want to be treated like targets, so brands need to understand user behaviour.


To engage their consumers, Mr Sane said that brands indulge in stunts that they believe will get them the numbers. However, Mr Sane added, “Brands need to understand the difference between stunts and magic. Stunts will get you the clicks but magic will get you customers.” Brands, he said, need to ‘play the host’ rather than think ‘it’s my message to you’ when they are engaging customers.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched an initiative called ‘Rising Stars’ where they chose six creative ideas as solutions to digital advertising. And as part of Microsoft Advertising’s commitment to rich media, said Mr Trevor Yeats, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Advertising, “Microsoft Advertising was one of the first publishers to adopt all six IAB Rising Star Solutions in the U.S., implementing five of them already in Asia.” These six star solutions are Filmstrip, Billboard, Pushdown, Sidekick, Slider and Portrait.


Filmstrip, said Mr Yeats, “…is a powerful canvas for all industries and across all continents. It enables creative storytelling, guiding consumers through a purchase funnel where they go from awareness to interest, to desire and intent and finally maybe to loyalty.”


Mr Yeats also shared some tips on building an engaging Filmstrip. He said, “It’s important that the filmstrip tells a story. Image galleries and videos can help tell the story better. And finally make the Filmstrip social, invite the customer to be a voice of your brand.”


While we talk of engaging and building an emotional connect with users, ROI and performance metrics still hold importance to continue with select digital campaigns. IAB Research shows that Rising Star ads have increased both exposure time and interaction rates by 90 percent. Mr Trevor Yeats, citing IAB research, said, “Users prefer Rising Star ads, they thought they were well designed and more engaging than most ads online. Rising Star ads positively added to the experience boosting performance.”


But how does one know if these Rising Star solutions will continue to ‘click’ with the consumers? Will they become redundant like the pop-ups? Mr Yeats seemed extremely positive of the Rising Star solutions as he felt that as long as the right balance with content is reached, rich media will only add to the experience of a user.


Mr Farshad Family, Managing Director, Nielsen Media, shared that online still remains only 4 percent of the total advertising pie in India, but he added that the share is growing rapidly. Adding on, Oded Lida Greiss, Vice President for Emerging Markets, MediaMind said, “India ad spend is low compared to global, but the trend is on an increase in opportunities with rich media.”


Mr Pushkar Sane, Co-Founder & CEO, Converginations Ventures Limited also said that although there is a lot of ‘noise’ out there, brands still need to create noise for themselves. He said, “The objective is to out-shout the competitor and to do that, interrupting people and breaking their privacy becomes a must. This is a trend that digital is slowly adapting and borrowing from television.”


But since there is a constant migration that takes place at the consumers’ end, brands need to understand that people are not loyal to a platform, they are only loyal to content. They are even beginning to trust the ‘unknown’. So, as Mr Sane said at the beginning of the seminar, marketers first need to address the ‘disconnect’ between them and the consumers, which probably exists because of excessive pressure on delivering quarterly results. He said, “No one is looking at long-term building, it is almost like as soon as we put on our agency or brand hats, we leave our brains outside. There is no shortcut in this business. Brands need to learn, practice and evolve.”


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