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Microsoft exec: Focus on quality apps

CHICAGO - A Microsoft executive at the Results 2013: Mobile Marketing Day last week acknowledged that the company is an underdog in the space. However, scale and quality will help Microsoft build out its application ecosystem.

During the ?What the Windows Ecosystem Gives the Digital Era? session, the Microsoft executive spoke about how Microsoft is using its control of the desktop to increase consumer engagements across multiple devices. The session also presented a look at how Microsoft is trying new marketing areas, such as television and product placement, to promote its brand.

?We?re really leveraging and harnessing that strong foundation that Windows 8 is delivering by building out a wonderful app ecosystem in the Windows store,? said Sharon Harris, global sales strategy lead for Windows 8 ads in apps and mobility at Microsoft Advertising, Redmond, VA.

?We?re really focused on quality ? obviously we?re late to the game,? she said.

?We?re the third player in this race. I think we?re probably the underdog by many respects, but we?re the underdog who has the ability to completely transform this race.?

Results 2013: Mobile Marketing Day was hosted by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing. The event was co-sponsored by Microsoft, Sumotext and Mobile Marketer.

Connected devices
According to Ms. Harris, Microsoft?s strength is being able to deliver consumer experiences across multiple devices.

Pulling together all of these assets across television, online and mobile with the same navigation is what Windows 8 is all about, per the executive.

When it comes to apps, Microsoft is focusing on creating quality apps. These apps are aimed at establishing the productivity that consumers are familiar with from Microsoft.

The proposition around these apps is work, life and play.

Scale also continues to be an issue for marketers with mobile. However, Ms. Harris said that given Microsoft?s control over desktop, scale becomes less of an issue with the company's goal of becoming the largest app ecosystem.

Making the switch to a consumer-first strategy means that Microsoft is mixing up its marketing, including commercials and product placements on television.

For example, ABC?s ?Scandal? includes a product placement for Windows Phone.

Consumers nowadays do not care what device their favorite brand or service is on. Users simply want to have an experience across all of the screens that they are using.

Microsoft?s mobile advertising business continues to grow, despite some challenges.

?For those of you who have been in the mobile space for a while, you?re probably very familiar with Windows Phone, and yes, we have sometimes stumbled,? Ms. Harris said.

?It has definitely been a hard road for us, but our mobile business is really evolving,? she said.

Specifically, Microsoft is enhancing its mobile advertising opportunities around rich media and targeting.

Making ads contextual, relevant and well-designed will drive effective mobile advertising.

Game on mobile
According to Ms. Harris, gaming is no longer about consumers sitting in a room attached to a device.

Microsoft has a big advantage here with Xbox.

The challenge with mobile gaming is to deliver a value for consumers.

Additionally, the purchase path has changed with mobile.

?It?s no longer that perfect, smooth path that it used to be,? Ms. Harris said.

?Now consumers come in and out of this journey at different points in time, and mobile can come in and out of this journey at any point in time,? she said.

For brands, it is key to be incorporated into this process, which includes relevancy, timing and location.

The trick is knowing when a brand can enter the shopping journey, whether it is for research or direct sales.

?So don?t think about it as just gaming ? now we?re really owning that living room experience ? it?s a huge part of that entertainment consumption,? Ms.  Harris said.

Final Take
Sharon Harris is global sales strategy lead for Windows 8 ads in apps and mobility at Microsoft Advertising, Redmond, VA