Unfinished business: Microsoft advertising patterns

logo-lg-1xFrom time to time, Microsoft comes with a new campaign. They launch / announce / present something either new or in a new fashion.

And, to me, most of their campaigns have one common problem – not going all the way, leaving things unfinished, not polishing just enough.


  • The Bing it on campaign – first, their product isn’t radically different, isn’t 80% better, isn’t 9 out 10 cases better than Google. They made this campaign of „oh, we’re better”. But if you can’t actually sustain it, if I can’t really see with my own eyes, I’m not convinced.
  • iPhone vs Windows Phone: Which smartphone is simply faster? – faster at … what? Very specific things, built into the phone? Most of the extra things the phone has can be added with an app. The users were also texting status messages, instead of just posting a photo. There are users who need more applications that what you can find on Microsoft ecosystem for phones – Windows Phone.
  • Don’t get Scroogled – Gmail – The problem, here, was that Gmail scans text to show ads. First of all, it’s something ridiculously irrelevant in the decision, let’s say, Outlook.com vs. Gmail. This is one of the least important reasons. Second of all, Gmail employees don’t read messages, they scan it with robots.
  • Don’t get Scroogled – Android – The new edition of Scroogled, this time saying that when you buy an app, they disclose name / email / neighborhood where you live. The problem is they don’t disclose it. But it’s a rather implicit fact that when I buy something, I have to provide some data of me. If I pay for something, I generally have to give out some data.

My point?

  • Microsoft focuses on rather irrelevant things. People don’t use Windows and Office for any other reason than this – almost everybody else is on Windows and Office and you need compatibility. They don’t use Windows for extra features, for bonuses, for shiny things. They use it so that they can work well with other systems. Similar, people use iOS and Android phones / tablets for having a big selection of apps to choose from. Having a friend who knows these and can me help when I have a problem is an extra bonus. The same with Google – people use it because everybody uses it and it proved it worked well. It’s a huge pushing factor. If you come with something new and doesn’t radically work better, why change? This is the main reason people use Skype worldwide and Yahoo! Messenger in Romania – everybody else is on Skype / Yahoo! Messenger. You need to be there, too. It’s irrelevant if Google Talk is more usable & friendly, if I can’t talk to anyone on Google Talk, then I won’t use it.
  • They don’t push things to the maximum, where lots of gems are found out – the Bing it on campaign was shut down, they didn’t continue. It was one shot. Then, rather than focusing on how to present irrelevant things better, they should focus on increasing the number of apps and the number of users of their phones, which will make the fact that a photo is posted sooner or later on Facebook irrelevant. Then, instead of finding an irrelevant fault in Gmail and Android, they should focus on making a better-than-Gmail Outlook (they don’t) and a better-than-Android Windows Phone (they don’t). Instead of scratching the surface :) with irrelevant ads, they should focus on the deep need for something better. They do the same mistake with Windows – focusing on irrelevant features which annoy a lot of people, and ignoring basic usability features. I find no relevant competition there, so they’re, pretty much, safe. Pick something and go with it until the end – make Windows better / make Outlook.com better / make Windows Phone better / make Bing better. Don’t focus on how to say „we’re better”. That’s not the point.

Counter example:

  • Google launched Buzz. It wasn’t different than Twitter, people used automated things to push things from Twitter to Buzz. Buzz (and the buzz around it) died.
  • Google launched Google+. Not much different than Facebook, but much simpler. A bit of a different audience (more males, more IT / marketing, more elevated discussions). They didn’t allow any integration. You have to get in there and use it. They’ve been pushing this for years. They don’t have one single, tiny, little thing – audience & traction. But they persist in it and push things, and try to make things better, and innovate, and come with new things. And they push things again.

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