Microsoft to target logged-in users constantly but claims it won't be creepy

By Rosie Baker | 20 June 2014

Advertising is becoming more important to Microsoft and it’s planning a raft of new advertising products that will take advantage of its cloud services, but claims it won’t be the kind of “creepy” and ineffective ad targeting offered by some platforms.

Microsoft has made no announcements about new ad platforms or units, but said it would do so later this year. It is making a concerted push for its cloud services as the key to connecting advertisers with consumers in “moments that matter” at almost every day part across multiple platforms and devices from checking news and emails on mobiles and tablets at home in the morning, using Xbox, logging on to a desktop at work and checking news and weather apps on the move.

Axel Steinman, VP of emerging markets at Microsoft outlined the way it views the future of online ad targeting at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

He said: “Microsoft as a company is evolving. We’re more committed to advertising than ever before and we have an audience of 1 billion people worldwide, it’s an excellent platform for brands to connect with consumers on whatever device they are using.”

By logging in with a Microsoft account to any device, Microsoft can follow and track users’ "experience" across devices. That means advertisers can use that information to target them regardelss of what happens to cookies. And Microsoft strongly encourages users to log-in by making it difficult to even log in and set up new devices without a Microsoft account, let alone use its full suite of services.

Ads will be more akin to content to minimise “ad blindness” and Microsoft claims it will not be the kind of “low quality, invasive” digital ad targeting that is currently the norm.

Steinman said: “We believe that good advertising, effective, impactful advertising isn’t the kind that serves publishers economics, its advertising that serves consumers, which in turn serves brands. For that, the digital industry needs to improve because the digital advertising that’s out there isn’t great, it’s not very impactful.”

“People are very concerned about creepy ads that they receive from networks that serve the same ads 20 times or ads for products you’ve already bought because of the cookie system that never gets expired. We have very high principles that we want to follow, non-invasive non-intrusive ads with high standards and respect for consumers.”

Rosie Baker attended Cannes Lions as a guest of Mi9 – a joint venture between Microsoft and Channel Nine Entertainment.

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