Microsoft Advertising is rebranding its products, strategy and services, combining and renaming the technology from its recent acquisitions of Xandr and PromoteIQ, and changing some of the processes across its product line. The shift officially begins in August.
The new brand strategy -- called a "transformation" by Microsoft Senior Brand Strategy Lead Richard Oliver, highlights connected services, as Microsoft looks to convince brands that its services offer more choices than Google.
The change begins with search, but will expand into artificial intelligence and a variety of services from a business network of partners, gaming platforms, and browsers as well as a supply-side platform for publishers, a demand-side platform for buyers, and a retail media stack.
“We were very much embedded in performance search,” Oliver said, calling it a legacy perception of the company.
He said when you talk with someone on the street, they would think of Microsoft as Bing. That has changed with generative artificial intelligence (GAI) and the acquisitions of Xandr, which supports programmatic ad campaigns; and PromoteIQ, which focuses on retail.
With this change, the Xandr products become Microsoft Monetize, Invest, and Curate. PromoteIQ becomes Microsoft Retail Media. All services integrated with GAI to re-imagine the customer and ad experiences.
“For the next 12 months we will work internally to embed the purpose, and how the Microsoft culture aligns with this transformation,” he said. “We won’t flip a switch and everything will change. Know that it will happen over time."
Oliver was careful to avoid calling the “rebranding” a “mission statement” -- a tag that solely belongs to the entire company. Xbox, for example, will have a different “purpose” then Microsoft Advertising. Each sector will have a purpose to meet the needs of its clients.
Microsoft Advertising has also introduced a new visual identity to tell its story of transformation, calling it a “graphic mark.” This visual identity, rather than a corporate brand, aims to provide a more human and relatable image. Part of telling the story is a graphic to represent the business, Oliver said. The symbol, meant to look like multiple sectors joined together, “creates a visual language.” It is not a logo. It’s more of a graphic design that sits in the background on a variety of marketing materials.
Name changes, a visual ID, colors, and text are only part of the transformation. Change also means new policies. Microsoft Advertising will restrict or disallow some ad categories in specific markets. Beginning September 1, 2023, Microsoft will disallow advertisements related to alcohol and gambling. On October 1, 2023, the company will disallow ads related to politics, tobacco and vaping, CBD, third-party government services, and tabloid and advertorials.
Failure to comply with these policies will result in ad accounts being considered non-compliant with Microsoft’s buying policies, and subject to removal from the ad platform.