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Microsoft launches 'Polymorphic Ads' to reach multiple screens

The second screen advertising space is heating up. SecondScreen networks is growing their footprint as the go-to for multi-device, in-synch social advertising, but competitors are on their way. Microsoft recently launched “Polymorphic Ads” at Cannes, and Chrysler is already trying out the solution. The ads are “designed to simplify multiscreen advertising,” according to Jenn Creegan Microsoft Advertising’s General Manager of Display Advertising Experiences.

Microsoft launched this product during AdWeek last year, but it announced their first major brand partner, Chrysler who is going to be using the tools. One of the key features to pay attention to is the fact that Polymorphic ads will help bring more brands to Xbox, as Creegan describes below. She points out that these ads differ from ConnecTV and SecondScreen Networks because they do not require a TV. Still, as we reported in March, Xbox is being used more to watch TV, then for gaming.

Xbox is going to have a big year. One of the challenges continues to be the price point. If Microsoft comes out with a $99, or less box to compete with the Roku and others, Microsoft Advertising and their Polymorphic ads could really be a game changer in the connected TV world.

Lost Remote: How do Polymorphic Ads work?

Jenn Creegan: It is good to think of Polymorphic ads as water and our multiple ad platforms as the vessel it fills. Meaning Polymorphic advertising occurs when advertisers give us their “water,” i.e. creative assets (videos, copy, images or logos), and then our technology assembles the assets so they fit the vessel, or in this case, the ad format. By doing this, ads are not only consistent and tell the brand’s story on multiple screens without having to be re-designed for each format, but they also reflect the unique interactive characteristics of the device they appear on. Microsoft Advertising is creating Polymorphic ads so that advertisers will be able to scale one set of creative assets quickly and efficiently across multiple devices and ad sizes.

LR: What platforms does it work on?

Creegan: Polymorphic ads will be served across multiple screens including PC (MSN), Windows8 apps, Xbox, and Mobile.

LR: Are there any social elements?

Creegan: Our vision is that Polymorphic ads will offer full rich media interactivity, including popular social plug ins. Over time, Polymorphic ads could include social signals that influence purchase intent, whether it is ratings and reviews, expert opinions, or other sources.

LR: How is this different than SecondScreen Networks or ConnecTV?

Creegan: SecondScreen Networks and ConnecTV both focus on synchronized ads across TV and a second device. Polymorphic ads do not require TV, nor do they require simultaneous device use.

LR: Anything else?

Creegan: We came up with the concept of Polymorphic ads based on marketplace need. As a major brand advertiser ourselves, we know that launching multiscreen campaigns can be difficult. Often, too difficult. There are too many ad sizes and technologies across too many devices. Right now marketers spend a disproportionate amount of their resources managing their digital plans.

CMOs of leading companies tell us they spend almost HALF of their time for just 10% of their current spend. So even if we build beautiful and compelling consumer ad experiences, we won’t unlock the full potential of digital unless we greatly reduce the time and effort it takes for marketers to launch digital campaigns. At Microsoft, we are committed to taking ad production costs down by half over the next three years. Polymorphic ads are part of this initiative. Polymorphic simplifies multiscreen, scaling one set of creative assets across multiple devices and ad sizes. The benefits of Polymorphic ads only increase with the complexity of an advertiser’s campaign (more screens = more time and effort saved).

Also, I’m excited to share that FIAT from Chrysler will be the first advertiser to pilot our Polymorphic ads solution! Later this summer, we will launch a FIAT campaign that spans MSN, Windows 8, and Xbox. We look forward to sharing the results when they become available.

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