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Today at Social Media Week in New York I introduced a new social advertising solution I am pretty excited about. We’re calling it People Powered Stories (PPS) ™. With it, advertisers can incorporate real peoples’ ratings and reviews about their products within a rich brand ad. The solution will be available next month and we believe it will give marketers the ability to create ads that tell powerful stories and create brand relevancy beyond just a “Like” by adding the authenticity and believability of real people’s real stories.
To bring PPS to life, we’ve partnered with Bazaarvoice, (a company that has powered more than 290 billion customer conversations for brands across the globe) to integrate consumer ratings and reviews into the rich PPS ad format. Advertisers will be able to tap into Microsoft’s highly social and engaged audiences across multiple screens and deliver relevant ads in a way that is targeted and more measurable than is available for social advertising on the web today. PPS is the first in a suite of social ad solutions that we will create in the coming months.
The People Powered Stories offering integrates customer ratings seamlessly into a rich ad format.
And expands to give consumers a deep dive on the reviews of the product / service submitted by real people.
As an industry, we intuitively know the power of social and the potential it holds for advertisers to engage with consumers. We also know that people want to hear what others have to say about various products and services. Despite the brand dollars that are flowing toward social media, advertisers have told me they continue to be frustrated at how difficult it is to measure ROI and confirm whether they are successfully engaging their target audiences.
We recently commissioned a study of 713 social media marketers around the world to solicit their opinions on social advertising.* Here’s what we found:
· The top two reasons advertisers invest in social media is to drive word of mouth and brand awareness (27% and 26% respectively).
· 72% of advertisers said measuring ROI on social media campaigns is too difficult.
· Advertisers believe 65% of word of mouth misses the intended audience.
· 73% of those advertisers surveyed said they want to make sure the ratings and reviews they curate online reach their target audience (which is more than ‘Likes’, ‘Tweets’ and any other source we asked about).
Windows 7 ‘Back to School’ Campaign
We’ve already seen the power of the ratings and reviews within PPS in action. As a part of a pilot, Microsoft integrated the PPS ad format into a Windows 7 “back to school” advertising campaign, targeting college students in the market for a new computer. The campaign ran across Microsoft properties that offered audience targeting capabilities to assure college students would see the Windows 7 reviews at sites they visited frequently online. The campaign delivered. With the authentic voice of the students included in the advertising, other college students found the Windows 7 ad units “believable” and “relevant.” The campaign drove great improvement across many marketing metrics, including:
· Ad believability increased 20 points above the market norms for technology ads
· 6.3% lift in purchase intent
· 13.5% lift in unaided brand awareness
After the campaign I spoke with Brenda Bown, Director of Windows Consumer Digital Marketing, and she had this to say about what PPS delivered for the Windows 7 brand: “Being able to harness the power of ratings and reviews from Bazaarvoice and incorporate it into our online marketing efforts strengthened our value proposition and established credibility by putting forth students’ voices to impact other students just like them.”
Not only is it important to be able to reach and measure the effectiveness of social ads, it’s important that the industry re-examine how we think about social. Instead of focusing just on having a Facebook page or a Twitter handle, advertisers need to focus on consumers and what they need.
Why do we believe PPS will be successful?
· We know that consumers who are looking to make large purchases rarely turn to their social network first; rather, they turn to online reviews. This is one of the main reasons we’ve integrated ratings and reviews into our first social format.
· As we saw with our Windows pilot, the ads lifted brand favorability, purchase intent and brand awareness.
While we are still in the early stages of unlocking the potential of social advertising, I am confident that we are moving into a world where the impact of social advertising will move beyond a ‘Like’ to a world where you can create and measure the value of social ads. We believe that the People Powered Stories ad format is critical to continuing this movement and helping brands gain credibility and relevance with their target consumers.
We’re excited to share more momentum from our People Powered Stories solution and other social ad formats in the coming months, but in the meantime, if you have questions or feedback, please feel free to post in the comments section at the bottom of this blog post. We’re always listening.
Jennifer Creegan interviewed by Mel Carson on People Powered Stories
Thanks for reading and do check out the post from Bazaarvoice on today's announcement too!
Jennifer Creegan - General Manager for Display Advertising Experiences at Microsoft Advertising
* Microsoft Advertising People Powered Stories Case Study – September 2011
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Jennifer congrats to creating a solid partnership between MS and BazaarVoice.
Integrating social feedback directly into an ad will certainly ad interest to the creative, but a number of questions also arise.
BazaarVoice is an enterprise class solution, costing upwards of 6 figures U.S Annually for just their ratings and reviews. Customer stories and other features are extra. This price point is well beyond the reach of most small to mid-sized businesses. Does the advertiser have to use BV as their ratings and reviews engine to take advantage of this opportunity?
Will MS advertising expand to include any R and R platform to be the source for your ads?
Google's approach to this issue is very different. Through Google places they offer R and R with Stories that is free. At this point the advertiser has no control over the R and R - A huge advantage that BV brings to the table. However, as you know Google is integrating these reviews and other social feedback into everything that they do, soon enough that will include ads.
So how should a company view investing into BazaarVoice's technology and creating these complex ad campaigns through MS Advertising knowing that soon enough there will be a virtually free solution from You-Know-Who?
Search and conversion behaviors.
By moving the visitor's interaction with RR and PPS to the ad and away from the advertiser's website, the opportunity for us to engage the visitor with all of our offerings has been eliminated. How does this form of advertising change the conversion funnel in your view? More and more we are shifting the top end discovery portion of the funnel to offsite social interactions like this. Perhaps it is the right strategy? Perhaps it is a tragic mistake?
What is the cost per click model? Once for clicking the ad, again for clicking a review? Again for a story?
How are CTR and Quality scores calculated in this multi click interaction?
How does an advertiser control PPS content to keep attack or false reviews from appearing in their own paid display ads?
Integrating social data into advertising on a mass scale is a very challenging task and I commend for taking it on. Choosing a leader like BazaarVoice is also a very smart move. However, I feel that this is a high end offering that will benefit only national advertisers with digital marketing budgets in excess of a million dollars. Whereas Google is looking at solutions that are affordable for virtually any company.
Great to see you hitting the interviews out of the park Mel.