Microsoft Launches a Mobile Advertising FAIL

I have a lot of apps on my Samsung/Google Nexus S. A couple are paid but the remainder are all free. Free due to advertising. These apps contain advertising slots that the developer hopes to sell to advertisers in order to generate a positive return. Alarm Clock Extreme Free is a perfect example. The bottom 1/6th of their app is dedicated to ads. Like one from Microsoft:

Microsoft Mobile Ad

I saw the ad above and thought, ‘ok, I’ve heard some decent stuff about Microsoft’s  Mango, let’s check it out.’  Tapping the ad I was asked first if I wanted to ‘View Ad,’ which was a little confusing because I’d just tapped the silly thing – of course I wanted to see the ad. Not sure if this is a function of the ad or a creation of the minds in Redmond, WA. but it seems like an unnecessary second step.

I tap ‘View Ad’ and, as expected, I’m whisked off to the land of my Windows Mobile 7 dreams.

Or not.

image: MSFT Site Cert

Now, I know that this  warning has its purpose and with only nacent experience clicking on mobile banner ads I try clicking ‘Cancel’. Bad idea. The same warning just kept coming up repeatedly, like a pop-up from a spam site that doesn’t want you to go away, and I never actually got to the site. I should have bailed at this point but it was starting to get interesting. Backing out, I found myself back in the Alarm Clock app looking at the same banner ad. Tapping it again and seeing the same warning I try ‘Continue’ and, thankfully it looks like I’m moving past the error message.

And onto a full website for Microsoft Store. Yikes.

image: MSFT Site

Yeah. This isn’t going to happen. Where are the goods on Windows Phone 7 “Mango”?? I’m at a storefront homepage, or so it seems (it’s very small).

FAIL.

*****************************************************************************

What could have saved this campaign?

It’s hard to tell what happened with this campaign. Here are my theories:

  1. (This is bad.) The marketer who set up the ad campaign didn’t realize that it might be seen from a mobile device. Given the gravity that success for Windows Phone carries for the Redmond giant this may be inexcusable.
  2. (This is worse.) The marketer actually knew that the ad would be seen from a mobile device, thought it was an awesome idea and did nothing. This marketer should be fired.

This could be a classic case of applying what we know about web advertising to the mobile environment but it appears that even the web portion has escaped the brains at Microsoft or, more likely, their agency.

  1. There is no payoff. Warning message aside, there is nothing that treats us to Windows Phone 7 and all its glory. We are simply shuttled to a home page. Of all channels, mobile needs to show value.
  2. Security certificates. These are incredibly important for eCommerce sites. They secure transaction and payment information from casual hackers. But this home page doesn’t need to be secure at this point. Nothing has happened. There should NOT be certificate validation at the entry point to a site where I may just want to browse products in relative anonymity.
  3. This landing site was not built for access from a mobile device. The remedy is obvious. Do NOT advertise on mobile devices if you’re not ready to give the user an experience designed for mobile.

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Launches a Mobile Advertising FAIL

  1. Dean

    Apparently the app was poorly designed and failed to execute what the consumer was hoping for. It seems to me that Microsoft has lost its edge over recent years. Maybe because Apple has out maneuvered it with some game changer devices. It seems Microsoft has lost a few big battles with its search engine, no social media answer, and its operating system is an apple wannabe that will never be. One thing for sure is that mobile advertising is going to be huge. Businesses should take advantage and plan their mobile strategy.

    Reply
  2. Kelly McIvor

    Dean – I agree about the rise of mobile advertising. Like other mobile marketing tactics, the user experience needs to be thought through; the whole experience needs to be considered. You see this failure all the time with QR codes that point to non-mobile web pages. And you see it with mobile advertising. Just placing an ad on a device is not enough.
    K

    Reply

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