The software giant is showing off the prototypes developed with
brands and agencies, including All Saints, Dell, Universal McCann and VML.
One of the most sriking examples comes from clothing brand All
Saints and London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay. As a user
horizontally scrolls through Vice's Windows 8 app, they may
overlook the tall rectangle featuring models garbed in All Saints.
However those models don't take their eyes off the user.
The ad uses what Microsoft's VP-global agencies and accounts
Stephen Kim described as "parallax view" so that its image adjusts
to its position on the screen. Assuming the gimmick is eye-catching
enough to get the user to click on the ad, the unit opens up into
video mural that plays as you horizontally scroll through the posh
dinner scene. Littered throughout the video -- which builds on
Microsoft's new Ad Pano format that aims to be a digital version of
the magazine fold-out -- are hot spots tied to the items worn by
the models that can be clicked on to navigate to a product page and
buy the shirt or dress.
"The highest order challenge the creative industry has had for a
long time...is how to create ads to get people to interact with a
larger experience," Mr. Kim said.
In another example, footwear brand Vans and New York agency
Rooster Worldwide built an ad displayed
in the Skype app plays as a user horizontally scrolls. If a user
clicks on the ad, he or she is prompted to team up with a friend
via a Skype video chat to build a virtual skatepark. After
assembling the playground they can check out Vans shoes, watch
branded videos and share their creation with other Skype contacts
or to Facebook and Twitter.
The unspoken hope is that top-tier brand advertisers will flock
to the new Windows 8 ads whenever they roll out of testing and that
app developers will see the premium ad revenues to be had and
create apps for Microsoft's operating system. In other words,
Microsoft is Kevin Costner trying to build in-app advertising's
Field of Dreams on its operating system; advertisers are the ghost
ballplayers; and app developers are the line of cars that close the
Apple is trying to do the same with its iAds, having built its
mobile operating system to enable ads that appear as generic mobile
banners but, when clicked, open up to function more like an app
than an ad.
Price drops indicate those ads may not be worth their
complexity, but a drive to attract brand dollars to digital may
hinge on these types of more immersive, premium banners.
That makes it all the more puzzling that Google, a company far more
dependent on advertising revenue than Microsoft or Apple, has yet
to build any premium ad products unique to smartphones or tablets
running its Android operating system.
Last year Microsoft had also worked with agencies to come up
with ad units unique to Windows 8 devices. Those in-app prototypes
also aimed to deliver more in-depth brand content but via
nontraditional ad formats akin to a Yahoo or AOL home-page takeover.
Without the flexibility to run in various apps or sites, the
prototypes are little more than the digital equivalent of a Times
Square billboard. Mr. Kim acknowledged the looming scale question,
saying the first step was to draft the concepts then figure out how
to make them more accessible to advertisers. "Each [prototype] has
an element that is designed to take on the challenge of how to work
within a more standard ad unit," Mr. Kim said of this year's