'Engagement centers' on business-oriented Web sites aim to capture decision makers who don't click on banners.
Microsoft has unveiled a multimedia business-to-business campaign to convince medium-sized businesses and enterprises its software will help them harness employees' energies. The "people ready" effort, engineered by McCann Worldgroup agencies, involves TV, print and outdoor ads, all of which point to a redesigned section of Microsoft's Web presence.
Spending wasn't disclosed on the campaign, though McCann executives described it as "significant" for the software firm.
The effort, which promotes all of Microsoft's business-focused products, including Windows, Office, Exchange Server and SQL Server, marks the first time the company has put together an audience-focused, rather than a product-focused campaign.
"It was put together strategically to provide the Microsoft vision for business," explained Anton Oenning, account director at McCann Erickson. "It's always supported its products, but in a somewhat siloed manner with campaigns for Office, for Windows, for SQL server, but never really providing business decision makers and IT decision makers with integrated messaging about how these products all work together."
Online, the campaign centers upon a newly-redesigned section of the Microsoft.com site at Microsoft.com/peopleready. The text-heavy site mostly contains content explaining the "people ready" philosophy -- that businesses must provide employees with the tools for them to be productive and creative -- and how Microsoft products can help them achieve that.
"The idea is to achieve engagement with the content that lives on the site, whether it's an article or whether it's a Web cast or a case study, that leads to a better understanding of this notion of 'people ready' and a better association of Microsoft with this notion of 'people ready,'" said Jason Tsai, associate interactive media director at Universal McCann San Francisco.
But Tsai acknowledges that the business decision makers it's targeting don't necessarily want to hang out at Microsoft.com. So it's developed partnerships with eight business-oriented Web sites, including the Economist.com, Newsweek.com, BusinessWeek.com, CNNMoney.com, BusinessWeek.com, WSJ.com and Forbes.
On each of these sites, Microsoft has created what it's calling "engagement centers," which consist of a microsite gathering Microsoft-created content and archived content from the publisher site itself -- all of it focused on the "people ready" concept. So far, only the WSJ.com and CNNMoney.com sites are live, but similar microsites will launch in the coming months. Online ads on the publishers' sites will drive traffic to the "engagement centers." Ads in the print editions of the magazines will also drive people online to these sites.
"We think we'll have more success driving people from Business Week to businessweek.com versus to Microsoft.com," said Tsai.
The company will also run online advertising on other business-oriented Web sites. Much of the creative will utilize video, both in in-banner executions and in in-stream ads, some of which will run on more news-focused sites.
Tsai said the company was also exploring more cutting-edge media placements, saying its research found that business decision makers were early adopters of technology. To that end, it's exploring video-on-demand on cable and satellite systems, and also on DVRs such as TiVo.
"We will be doing some testing in those arenas," said Tsai.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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