Sometimes classic movies remind me of the ad business. (For example, see Who Are Those Guys Anyway???) During Advertising Week I found myself thinking of a humorous part in the 1967 movie, "The Graduate." Dustin Hoffman's character, Benjamin Braddock, has been cornered at his graduation party by an older character named Mr. McGuire, who is intent on giving Benjamin some career advice:
Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Mr. McGuire has it all figured out. The key to unbridled success and wealth can be boiled into just one word: plastics.
If Mr. McGuire had been at one of the parties at this year's Advertising Week, instead of "plastics" he might have said "programmatic"… or "native"… or "viewability." We can and do fall into this same McGuirean fixation with the proverbial bright, shiny object of the moment. That doesn't mean these trends aren't important—of course they are, just as the devices we're carrying around with us were made possible by advances in plastic technology. And we are spending a lot of our time and effort making sure we can deliver value for marketers in each of these areas of ad tech as they quickly advance and evolve. But in an industry where "status" and "quo" are two words we refuse to say in the same sentence, we can miss a much more important point. The one thing more important than trends, technology or the latest idea that will revolutionize digital marketing is people.
Advertising has always been, and always will be, about people. To my way of thinking, technology is a means to an end, not the end itself. This may sound like a strange sentiment coming from someone who works for a technology company and thinks every day about ad innovation for marketers and agencies. But if you take a deeper look at how we approached Advertising Week this year, perhaps you'll see what I mean. We wanted to share some stories of how each of us can know more, do more and be more.
We hosted Steve Gleason, one of the stars of Microsoft's Super Bowl spot last February, at IAB MIXX not to push an ad story on the audience but to talk about his experience and show what can happen when people work together to create technology that can change lives. In this case, the combination of our Surface Pro 3 with Eye Gaze technology that empowers Steve to communicate when his physical body is no longer able to do so.
And this is why, instead of showing off new ad formats or case studies at the TimesCenter, we took a different tack and allowed people to play around with Eye Gaze to send tweets with their eyes, design their own sneakers and experience our new MSN.
We opened our new offices not solely to show off our digs (although they're pretty cool) but to create a space where all comers—including industry associations, partners and even competitors—could congregate, network, mix, talk and absorb new ideas.
It's why we created the Microsoft eXperience Team, so that agency professionals can share their candid impressions of immersing themselves in a Microsoft product ecosystem, and help us build even better consumer and advertising experiences.
We all love technology. Believe me, we can geek out with the best of them and are relentless about improving our ad offerings and media assets to earn our place in the media budget. But this year we took off our sales hats.
Know more. Do more. Be more. I'm glad we approached Advertising Week a bit differently this time around. And to think, we did it all without a single mention of plastics!
About the sponsor
Greg Nelson is general manager of display advertising at Microsoft Advertising. Since joining in 1995, Greg has held a number of roles in product development, business strategy, marketing, sales and business development. Other roles include GM of MSN's Global Media Group and GM of MSN International. He was responsible for building MSN's global media operations and creating the Web's premier online media network. Greg holds an MBA from Harvard University, a postgraduate diploma from the University of Cape Town and a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University. He lives in Kirkland, Wash., with his wife, Laurie, daughter, Rebecca, and son, Tyler.
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