Microsoft plays down move from ad sales into martech business and insists ‘we are very firmly in both worlds’

Microsoft has quashed speculation that it is realigning its business strategy to focus on marketing tech versus advertising, insisting it is “very firmly in both those worlds”.

The comments come after Microsoft sent the rumour mill into overdrive at the beginning of the month when it announced a deal with AOL that will see the media corporation assume responsibility for all of its display, mobile and video advertising inventory across nine markets including the US, UK and Canada. In the same week, Microsoft also inked a multi-year expansion of its programmatic relationship with Appnexus into 10 markets.

At the time, reports intimated that the business was handing over the reins of its ad sales business to instead focus on productivity and marketing tech as part of a wider business transformation. Despite this, Microsoft’s chief envisioning office Dave Coplin played down the recent activity and said that in the past the businesses has “sucked” at how it communicated productivity and it is now focussing on its core business of helping people “do great things”.

“We are very firmly in both [advertising and martech] of those worlds, I don’t think this is us getting out of or into anything,” he told The Drum at the Jellyfish Digital Journey’s event in Brighton today (16 July). “Microsoft has always been about productivity and we’ve sometimes sucked at how we’ve told the story but from the beginning 40 years our mission was to put a PC on everyone’s desk because 40 years ago that was the right language to use and that was the right concept. Today our opportunity is just the same because it’s about empowering people to do great things.”

“Where I think Microsoft is going, and the decisions that it is making, is to focus on our role as a platform company to help people achieve great things. I don’t care whether you are in marketing or advertising or health; it doesn’t matter – if you can use our technology to get a better result then we’ve done our job. All of the things I see happening over the last weeks, months and years is getting back to our core business which is to enable people to do great things.”

Coplin also urged marketers and advertisers not to underestimate the power of big data when setting out to answer a businesses problem, claiming that companies too easily “misconstrue” data and don’t use enough of it to gain an insight.

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