NEW YORK: Microsoft, the technology giant, is tapping a bespoke digital pre-testing tool which helps ensure its advertising on this channel engages consumers and improves over time.

Josh Billig, from Microsoft's Consumer Advertising Research division, discussed this topic at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2017 Annual Conference.

More specifically, he outlined why the maker of the Windows operating system, Xbox games console and Surface tablets developed a new digital pre-testing platform in conjunction with research firm GfK.

"We have a lot of nagging questions about digital advertising, and they span from creative to media. We found that there were fewer answers in the creative space," he said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Microsoft blazes a trail for digital pre-testing.)

Drilling down into this subject, Billig suggested the flaws displayed by many existing digital pre-testing tools result from their origins in the TV space.

"A lot of the tools out there right now that address digital advertising are derived from television [pre-testing], with the same philosophies and the same principles. And, sometimes, they just don't work," he asserted.

With digital claiming a growing share of spend, the need for stronger pre-testing increases. "I need unique insights," said Billig. "I need insights that can't be derived from the traditional copy test; I need things that are unique and substantive."

New media channels, he continued, typically take between 30% and 40% of budgets, depending on the campaign, for Microsoft's consumer-facing products. But research funding has often lagged behind in this area.

"Only a fraction of the dollars that we're spending on research for our campaigns is actually going towards digital. That's out of alignment with the spend," Billig said.

"I'm not advocating that we should spend proportionately to our digital spend. But I do think we need to rethink how we're allocating resources to digital advertising,"

Alongside helping Microsoft adapt live campaigns, pre-testing also lets the company boost long-term effectiveness and efficiency by delivering transferable learnings.

"We don't test all of our digital ads. But we want to make all of our digital ads better, so we need to take away things that we can apply more broadly. And really what that involves is doing a lot of tests, and looking across the tests," Billig said.

Data sourced from WARC