Interview with Mr. Marc Bresseel, Vice President, Global Marketing, Microsoft Advertising

How has technology impacted the advertising industry in the recent years?

Technology is evolving at an unparalleled rate, creating both challenges and opportunities for the advertising industry. With the advent of multi-screen consumption, advertising must work harder to gain the attention of its audience. Fortunately, with targeted advertising and ad-exchanges, for example, we have an increasingly sophisticated set of tools to do this with.  In today’s market it is only those companies with foresight and a coordinated vision that will succeed; those that do not keep up with technological advances will not win in the long run. For me, this increases the importance of partnerships across the industry and between agencies and advertisers. These help us bring together our different strengths and expertise in order to use the available technology to produce fresh, exciting and original ad campaigns, with increasing levels of interaction between the ads and consumers. Ultimately, good advertising is about good storytelling, great ideas and fantastic creativity, and technology is giving us an increasingly rich palette to tell these stories with.


Which advertising channels do you think will play a major role in the future?

There are two points to note here. Firstly, I think in the future it will not be which individual channels play a major role, but the way the channels are consumed which will be significant. We increasingly live in a connected society; we always have some kind of screen to hand, whether that’s on a laptop, mobile, tablet, TV or billboard, and our attention flickers between them all. Bridging the multi-screen experience will be the major challenge, as brands integrate their stories across a range of screens. In this respect, mobile channels are and will be increasingly important as the proliferation of smartphones increases in the next few years. Secondly, and as an adjunct to the first point, I think the most significant channels, in terms of really getting consumers under the skin of a brand, are interactive ones. By offering connected, interactive experiences which stimulate and excite the consumer we can not only tell the story of the brand to the consumer, but let them help shape it, making them a key part of the storytelling and the brand. Traditional, passively absorbed media consumption is dying out; connected, interactive and multi-screen consumption is the future.


What are the key challenges in digital marketing?

For many traditional marketers and long established brands digital can seem like a somewhat daunting challenge, beset by layers of jargon and infatuated by social media. The key challenge for agencies and advertisers is to explain and promote digital marketing to our clients, so it’s not an addition which comes after TV, but a key component of a connected campaign. To an extent, this will take time. TV has years of research behind it to prove its effectiveness, whereas there is at present only a few great digital campaigns to demonstrate what digital mediums are capable of offering a brand and it’s consumers. Eventually, we will achieve the situation where ‘digital marketing’ is so integral to the advertising offering is will become  just ‘marketing’, but it will require several years of digital evangelism, creative storytelling and careful measurement for this time to come.


The CEE digital landscape is still developing and differs from the one in Western Europe. Do you have any advice for the digital marketing professionals from the region?

CEE professionals operate in an evolving market, making them well placed to learn the lessons experienced by more mature markets in Western Europe. They can evaluate tactics that have worked, and those that have not been so successful and shape their strategy accordingly. That said, they should be wary of mimicking Western markets outright, as consumers in the CEE region have their own preferences and may not welcome new techniques if introduced prematurely. Advertisers should always be guided by their audience in their market, listening to what their consumers want rather than imposing it upon them.  Marketing professionals in CEE markets should also be aware that Western markets have sometimes learned lessons the hard way when developing effective tactics. For instance, marketers working on behavioural targeting in the UK learned that with new commercial avenues came new responsibilities, involving privacy and the consumer. CEE markets can learn a lot from Western markets and have a considerable advantage in doing so, but they should put time into developing their tactics responsibly and listen to their consumers in the process.

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