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Takeaways from Microsoft Ads’ NYC Retail Workshop

4 MINUTE READ | July 9, 2019

Takeaways from Microsoft Ads’ NYC Retail Workshop

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Kaitlin McGrew

Kaitlin McGrew has written this article. More details coming soon.

NYC skyline

New York City skyline

Microsoft Advertising graciously invited PMG to the bustling city of New York to hear all about back-to-school trends and how we can better inform ourselves and the larger search team on how to revamp our strategy on Microsoft Ads.

In this post, we’ve outlined the key takeaways from each session we attended during the Retail Workshop, and hopefully, this content will inspire you and your search teams to challenge not only yourself but your brand clients to ensure the best possible experience for new and loyal customers. So let’s dive into the content:

We kicked off the workshop on the topic of inclusive marketing. What is inclusive marketing you may ask? Well, to keep it simple, inclusive marketing is making sure your product and marketing strategy resonate and can be purchased by anyone. A prime example of a company hitting the mark on inclusive marketing and actively changing a product to fit a better need is Microsoft, specifically with the new XBOX One gaming console. Microsoft created a gaming console that could be purchased and used by everyone, meaning that it is: 

“Accessible to all. Nothing should come between you and the games you love. We strive to eliminate barriers, and to empower gamers to customize the way they play.”

During holiday 2018, Microsoft released an ad showcasing a new console that is accessible to everyone. While this commercial triggers extreme emotion, the thoughtfulness and execution from the Microsoft XBOX team is truly incredible and allows people who were previously not able to game now have a chance to participate and engage with their friends online in a way they could not before.

The next piece to inclusive marketing is making sure that your advertising is speaking to all audiences. Start by asking yourself, “are we excluding a major audience?” Challenge your brand to think outside of the box and run a marketing strategy that can be relatable to all groups of people. Understand the buying power of an audience you might not be speaking to — you’ll be surprised how much you can move the needle by simply adjusting your messaging and creative to fit a broader scope of humans.

While going back to school does not trigger the same kind of emotions as inclusive marketing, Microsoft presented trends that advertisers can capitalize on to make the “going back to school” experience a little less painful for parents and their kids. In case you didn’t know, back to school averages $83 million in spend. Planning and implementing a sound strategy to ensure you’re hitting the consumer journey, followed by utilizing data to inform specific touchpoints, will help ensure a successful season for both the business and consumer. 

Photo of school soccer field with fans

Keep these stats in mind when making the case to start back to school planning early: 

  1. The Research Starts Early: Over 20% of searches start at least 60 days before school starts, with some people searching as far as  200 days in advance.

  2. Timing Of Products Sold: Microsoft data shows that higher price point items are purchased earlier and lower-priced products are purchased last.

  3. Colleges/Schools Start Dates By Region: Remember that children in the South and kids in the West start school at different times. Tailor a strategy to capitalize on the moments when we know consumers in Texas are shopping versus people in California.

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The workshop encouraged us to challenge our clients with ideas on how to be more inclusive in their advertising. Suggesting different imagery to include groups of people, or messaging to let people know we have specialty products they need is something we’ll be focusing on as time goes on. The back to school consideration phase starts way earlier than most would think. Knowing people are going back to school at all different times of the year, it might be helpful to have “school” messaging year round.

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