Windows Phone 7 An 'Ad-Serving Machine', says MS Exec

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft representatives have promised that the forthcoming Windows 7 Phone system will be based around the way customers use their phones in their everyday lives. But when Microsoft speaks to the marketing world, it tells a different story.

Kostas Mallios, who oversees Microsoft's Strategy and Business Development unit, recently spoke at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He spoke about the way in which Windows Phone 7 is designed to be a seamless experience for the user such that everything from social networking to multimedia is linked together smoothly.

However, he also told marketers in attendance that this integration would be great for the way they connected with users, noting "this is actually turning out, in my view, to be an ad-serving machine." (Source:

Microsoft Uses Dual Notification System

Mallios' comments were based largely on the fact that Windows Phone 7 ads work in two different ways. Both still require the user to sign up to receive messages, usually as an information service in themselves, or as the "price" of a free application.

One system referred to as the "tile notification" builds on the way icons work in other phone systems such as on the iPhone. Application icons can display a small message in one corner to show that new information is available: with the iPhone, this is usually limited to a number showing; for example, how many unread emails or Facebook messages the user has waiting for them inside the app itself.

With Windows Phone 7, the entire icon can change. That's still somewhat limited for advertisers, as the visibility of their message will be restricted. Another restriction is that people using tile notifications will be encouraged to include all the possible images which might appear for the icon within the application itself in order to save battery life. That means it might be difficult to keep sending fresh and original ads.

Toast Notifications Appeal to Advertisers

However, it's the second system -- oddly-named "toast notifications" -- that will likely appeal to advertisers.

This allows a message to slide down over the screen, somewhat similar to pulling a blind down over a window. That makes it much more likely the user will see and absorb the message, though they'll then get the option of either clicking for further details or clicking to close the notification.

In its technical description of the toast system, Microsoft stresses that notifications should be "personally relevant and time critical" and "primarily be focused on peer-to-peer communication". But if what Mallios said is correct, advertisers may push hard to persuade phone users to allow them to use the system for commercial messages. (Source:

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