A Student’s Perspective: Beyond the Like: Using Real People’s Real Stories to Drive Brand Awareness

Trinna Leong is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Beyond the Like: Using Real People’s Real Stories to Drive Brand Awareness, hosted by Microsoft.

A highly-anticipated event, with over a hundred guests in attendance, Beyond the Like was filled to its capacity with guests even standing throughout the presentation.

It was the launch of Microsoft’s new product, “People Powered Stories.”

Microsoft Advertising collaborated with Bazaar Voice, a software as a service (SaaS) company that integrates customers social data to help brands leverage content. Microsoft Advertising’s General Manager for Brand Advertising, Jennifer Creegan, and Bazaar Voice’s co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Brant Barton, came to introduce the product.

Using the “Back to School” campaign as their test pad, Microsoft took reviews of Windows 7 from their target audience, high school students, and displayed them on their banner ads. Microsoft is aiming to make banner ads content more social to add relate-ability with clients. And they were did it. “Back to School” was a success for Microsoft, who now looks toward marketing “People Powered Stories” to other brands.

The move to produce “People Powered Stories” came when Bing, a Microsoft company, conducted research that showed audiences look to reviews more than to social networks for advice on products. This prompted Microsoft to look into developing a user-generated reviews to market a product. The company believes that having users submit their reviews adds believability to the ad on sites.

The company still uses engagement time as a metric to determine relevancy of ad with consumers, a metric that was dismissed by another panel: Why Engagement Should Be Spelled A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N. When interviewed, Creegan stressed that Microsoft isn’t using engagement time as the only metric but does factor it into their evaluations.

“That’s why we have three metrics: purchase, believability and engagement time,” said Creegan, making their process a sound launching pad.

 
Trinna Leong is from Malaysia and had two years of work experience in the online advertising industry before deciding to trade the sweltering tropical heat for a chance to pursue journalism at Columbia University. Prior to switching fields, she has worked on projects for Nike, IKEA and Citibank. You can follow her on Twitter at @trinnaleong.