Co-creating new advertising formats

According to Andy Hart, Vice President for Microsoft Advertising & Online Europe (1), studies have shown that an average consumer in a city in Europe receives between 1,500 and 3,500 commercial messages every day. Consumers are increasingly starting to avoid ads and the rules of advertising are changing.

Therefore, between 2012 and 2013, Microsoft initiated co-creation sessions with consumers and designers and separate sessions with partners to redefine the ways that ads appear and to create concepts that would solve problems in and around shopping experiences (2). It was found that consumers want to see less advertising, but more information that can specifically help them get what they want.

According to industry experts, Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform was not getting a lot of advertiser’s attention because it was not as extensively adopted as platforms like Android (3). Therefore, in 2013, the company announced a new ad format for its Windows 8 platforms based on the aforementioned sessions. The company released several prototypes co-developed by brands and agencies (4). With this Ad Pano platform, the company reaches out to consumers on different devices, by offering multiplatform and cross-platform experiences. Supposedly, it will enable Microsoft to compete with iAd, a similar platform offered by Apple (5).

The new Ad Pano ad format is a panoramic format that allows advertisers possibilities to run ads in apps within Windows 8, Bing, Xbox and Skype. It offers an ‘active anchor ad experience, which comes to life with a series of 15 images that can simulate video, similar to a flip-book’ (3). Aim of these co-creations and the resulting new ad format was to create something meaningful for all involved: ‘the brand becomes more relevant while the customer becomes more connected’ (6).

Several prototypes were developed, for instance the campaign prototype for the hip and edgy clothing brand All Saints (below) and an ad experience for Vans shoes within Skype (7).

According to Grönroos and Voima (2013), ‘co-creation is the process by which mutual value is expanded together’ (8). Thompson and Malaviya (2013) have researched whether brands can benefit from communicating to consumers who have not been involved in a co-creation process that a target ad was developed by a fellow consumer. Even though the content of the ads is not necessarily designed via consumer co-creation, the platform itself is. You might expect that consumers would react favorably to this, but that highly depends on how a message recipient perceives the ad creating consumer.

The question is whether the media attention for this new Windows 8 ad platform was beneficial for Microsoft, because it was disclosed that the Ad Pano was co-created by consumers. Thompson and Malaviya (2013) found that if message recipients perceive the fellow consumer as someone more similar to them than a professional persuader, this increases the persuasiveness of the ad through the process of identification. However, if ‘message recipients are skeptical about the ability of ordinary consumers to develop effective advertising’ (9), this can hurt the persuasion of an ad.

Even though this case does not concern ads, but an ad platform, consumers might think that fellow consumers cannot develop an effective platform and that it is something professionals should do. This may influence how they perceive messages via the Ad Pano platform. However, other sources state that ‘by involving stakeholders and customers at the beginning of the process trust and empathy is quickly created’, which improves your position in the market, offering speed and agility (10). It would be interesting to find out more about how consumers have reacted to this platform tailored to their wishes for more tailored information to help them get what they want (9).

(8) Grönroos, C., & Voima, P. (2013). Critical service logic: making sense of value creation and co-creation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), 133-150.
(9) Thompson, D.V., & Malaviya, P. (2013). Consumer-Generated Ads: Does Awareness of Advertising Co-Creation Help or Hurt Persuasion? Journal of Marketing, 77(3), 33-47.

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